Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin necessary for the proper functioning of the body. The human body cannot produce vitamin C, therefore it must deliver it to the body with food or in the form of supplements. Vitamin C participates in a very large number of processes occurring in the human body. First of all, it supports the proper functioning of the immune system, stimulates the growth and efficiency of immune cells, primarily the so-called T and B lymphocytes. It strengthens the antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal effects of leukocytes, as it is a powerful antioxidant soluble in water, thanks to which it easily penetrates tissues rich in water. It penetrates into every cell and inhibits the growth of bacteria, viruses or fungi.Another important function of vitamin C is its participation in the process of collagen formation and maintaining its high level. Collagen is the main component that builds connective tissue – tendons, cartilage, bones or blood vessels. In addition, vitamin C is necessary for the formation and secretion of ossein – a bone building block. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, which protects DNA, proteins and fats from the harmful effects of free radicals. It also participates in the synthesis of amino acids, protection of other vitamins against oxidation and activation of folic acid. It contributes to the proper absorption of calcium and iron transport in the blood, and its high level in the body promotes the creation of maximum glycogen resources in the liver, thereby strengthening its detoxifying activities. It participates in most metabolic processes, acting as a specific hydrogen donor and electron transporter in cells. Ascorbic acid also ensures the correct structure and continuity of the endothelium of blood vessels, affects the efficiency of the heart and circulatory system and reduces blood pressure. Furthermore, it participates in maintaining proper psychological functions, supports proper functioning of the nervous system and reduces the feeling of fatigue and weariness.
Symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency:
Vitamin C deficiency in the organism leads to:
- decreased immunity,
- quick fatigue,
- weakening of the capillaries,
- occurence of microhemorrhages,
- disorders in the formation of collagen,
- pain in muscles, joints,
- disorders in fatty acid metabolism.
Symptom of excess amount of Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is a water-soluble substance, and thus – is not accumulated in the body, only excreted with urine and sweat. Therefore, it is difficult to overdose.Too large amounts of vitamin C may, however, cause skin rashes or gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Too high doses of vitamin C may cause the formation of kidney stones.
Sources of vitamin C in food:
Many fruits and vegetables are a great source of vitamin C, such as citrus, blackcurrant, papaya, kiwi, strawberry, mango, paprika, kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, tomato. Vitamin C is also found in acerola, wild rose, rowan, barberry and thyme.
Supplementation with Vitamin C:
Supplements which contain Vitamin C:
People with urolithiasis or excessive oxalate excretion through the kidneys should not take high doses of vitamin C above 1 g per day.
Vitamin C, taken in a dose of more than 1 g a day, may interact with birth control pills and increase the concentration of estrogen in the blood, thereby intensifying its side effects. There may then be complaints from the gall bladder, vaginal infections caused by yeasts, bloating, nausea or vomiting.