Everything you need to know about vitamin C

Diet

24/01/2018


Emily Condon
BSc (Hons) Biological Sciences

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What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C which is also known as ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin. The body is unable to make or store vitamin C, so we obtain it through the foods we eat. Alongside being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and the skin as it is required for the biosynthesis of collagen. Vitamin C also helps to strengthen the immune system and aid the absorption of iron in the body. 

How do we get vitamin C?

The best sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits including oranges and grapefruits as well as peppers, kiwis are all packed full of vitamin C. Other fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, tomatoes and broccoli also contain vitamin C. Prolonged storage of food and cooking can reduce the vitamin C content of food, but fortunately, many foods high in vitamin C are usually eaten raw.

What are the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency causes a range of symptoms in the body including inflammation and bleeding of the gums, dry hair and skin and slow wound healing. People with gastrointestinal conditions and some types of cancer may be more susceptible to developing a vitamin C deficiency. A lack of vitamin C in the diet over a long period of time can lead to a condition called scurvy, a disease resulting from the breakdown of collagen. This condition is rare, as most people get enough vitamin C through their diet. Scurvy affects muscle and bone strength but is easily treated by eating foods rich in vitamin C and taking vitamin C supplements.
 
Those who supplement vitamin C must be aware that taking an excess, such as 1000 mg daily, may irritate the digestive tract. However, the body excretes what it does not use, so instances of overdosing on vitamin C are rare. 

Learn more about vitamins:

What are vitamins?

Everything you need to know about vitamin A

Everything you need to know about the B vitamins

Everything you need to know about vitamin D

Everything you need to know about vitamin E

Everything you need to know about vitamin K

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