Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid) is very important vitamin – actually it is a powerful antioxidant with vital functions. It is needed for normal growth and development – it helps to repair and regenerate connective tissues (bones, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and skin), protect against heart disease, support iron absorption, prevent scurvy and decrease levels of “bad cholesterol” (LDL).
During last decades scientists noted that this vitamin can protect body from cancerous transformations by combating free radicals and neutralizing certain cancerous chemicals. At the same time, it can fight common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts and support healthy immune function.
Vitamin C deficiency
Ascorbic acid deficiency has been associated with several health conditions including high blood pressure, gallbladder disease, stroke, some types of cancers and atherosclerosis.
Deficiency symptoms include dry and splitting hair, rough/dry/scaly skin, fatigue, muscle weakness, joint and muscle aches, bleeding gums, decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising, nosebleeds, leg rashes and decreased ability to fight infections. Rarely prolonged deficiency can cause severe scurvy.
As nicotine can decrease the amount of this vitamin in the body, smokers are at a higher risk of deficiency.
Vitamin C and health
Ascorbic acid plays pretty crucial role in protection from several diseases.
Some evidence suggests that ascorbic acid can help protect arteries against damage and can also slow down the progression of atherosclerosis by reducing levels of “bad cholesterol”. As a result, vitamin C can prevent heart attack and stroke.
High Blood Pressure
Epidemiological studies confirm that people who consume enough foods rich in antioxidants (including vitamin C) have lower risks of high blood pressure than people who have poorer diets.
Even ancient medicine recommends citruses (full of ascorbic acid) for curing common cold. Modern medicine suggests that only regular consumption of citruses can reduce the duration of a cold (about 1-2 days).
Epidemiological studies suggest that eating foods rich in vitamin C could be associated with lower rates of certain types of cancer (skin cancer, cervical cancer, breast cancer). At the same time, research shows that ascorbic acid is not effective in cancer treatment programs. Most probably it can prevent but not treat – actually this vitamin is not recommended during chemotherapy.
Vitamin C is essential for production and maintenance of body collagen (part of normal cartilage). Medical evidences show that people who consume food rich in vitamin C are less likely to be diagnosed with arthritis. Scientists explain it by positive role of antioxidants which fight successfully with free radicals responsible for damage of cartilage.
Some studies noted low levels of vitamin C in people with asthma. Future research is needed.
Vitamin C foods
Our body is not able to produce vitamin C or store it. It means this important vitamin can be received with foods or supplements. List of foods which contain ascorbic acid include oranges, green and red peppers, watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, kiwi, mango, apples, asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and citrus juices.
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.