VITAMIN C (Ascorbic acid)
This water-soluble vitamin must be eaten or taken as humans (unlike most other mammals) cannot make vitamin C.
Vitamin C is required for:
– The synthesis of collagen.
– The synthesis of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (NE).
– The synthesis of carnitine.
– The metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids.
Vitamin C is also a key anti-oxidant protecting proteins, lipids, fats, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radials. Vitamin C also helps regenerate other antioxidants like vitamin E.
SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY
Scurvy is the classic disease known for centuries, cured by eating oranges and lemons by early sailors. Symptoms include easy bruising and bleeding, hair and tooth loss, and joint pain and swelling. Fatigue and low energy is seen, likely as a result of low carnitine and NE.
Studies have shown that vitamin C can improve the following conditions:
– Heart disease and stroke – reduced at 100 mg daily (also for those with high fruit and vegetable intake).
– Cancer – reduced at levels of vitamin C exceeding 80-110 mg daily intake.
– Lead toxicity reduced at intake levels of 1000 mg daily by adults.
Citrus is the classic food high in vitamin C with a grapefruit having 90 mg and an average orange having 70 mg. Other fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C include sweet red peppers, strawberries, kiwi, citrus, broccoli, kale and greens (fresh), fruit juices, fortified juices, and cereals.
SAFETY and TOXICITY
The most recent RDA Tolerable upper limit was set at 2000 mg daily. Though there are some conflicting results, it would seem that 2000 mg daily is safe in adults and up to 500-1000 mg would be safe in infants and children respectively. When Vitamin C is not buffered, the acidity can affect the enamel of the teeth, and upset the stomach. Some experience diarrhea at higher levels of vitamin C. There is no limit to the amount of vitamin C taken as food.
There is compelling information that extra vitamin C (even better as food) is warranted during pregnancy. Read here…
For more on Vitamin C, read here…