What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that helps to form and maintain collagen, which is the main protein of connective tissue and enhances the body’s ability to absorb iron. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant in that it protects the body from certain forms of oxidative stress, and is also a significant co-factor in certain enzymatic functions.
What are the health benefits of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is required for the manufacture of collagen in the body, assists immune functions, and helps boost the effectiveness of other antioxidants in the body. Also, vitamin C is arguably the most well known of the vitamins for its association with curing the common cold. Studies have been conducted on this claim and while findings vary and are continuing to be explored, it has been found that while vitamin C reduces the frequency of colds, it doesn’t reduce their severity or duration.
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to the onset of scurvy, which is the result of the body’s synthesized collagen becoming too unstable to perform its function. As such, scurvy may cause bleeding from mucous membranes, spongy gums, the loosening and losing of teeth, liver spots, open wounds, and possibly even death. The average American diet will likely maintain proper vitamin C levels, and as such the onset of scurvy is very rare.
What foods are good sources of Vitamin C?
Along with dietary supplements, vitamin C can be found in great abundance in red and yellow peppers, spinach, citrus fruits, broccoli, tropical fruits like papayas and guavas, and kiwifruit. Vitamin C can be found in particularly high abundance in rose hips, seabuckthorn, and jujubes. Vitamin C is also found in animal sources like beef liver and oysters, but these amounts are relatively small in comparison to their plant-based counterparts.
What are the guidelines for taking Vitamin C?
The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends 90 mg of vitamin C per day and no more than 2,000 mg per day. As a water-soluble vitamin, excess vitamin C is removed through the urine, though the risks of excessive amounts of vitamin C are still a point of contention.
Are there any precautions for taking Vitamin C?
It has been found that excessive amounts of vitamin C can cause kidney and bladder stones, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, and the loss of calcium.
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