The health benefits of vitamin C

What is vitamin C? In short, it is a water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid. What people don’t know is that vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, so we need it from our diet every day.

Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen which is a type of protein found in many different types of tissue, such as skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage. It is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in healing wounds.

Consuming vitamin C also increases the amount of iron we can absorb from plant sources, such as kale, broccoli and sprouts. Iron is especially good for the body because it helps metabolise proteins and plays a role in the production of haemoglobin and red blood cells. Being iron deficient can lead to conditions such as anaemia which can leave you feeling weary and tired.

Protection against free radicals

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that may protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke.

What is scurvy?

A rare condition that can develop if you don't have enough vitamin C in your diet is scurvy. Scurvy is characterised by swollen bleeding gums and the opening of previously healed wounds. This happens because without vitamin C, collagen - the essential connective tissue - cannot be replaced and the different types of tissue breakdown. Other symptoms of scurvy include muscle and joint pain, tiredness and the appearance of red dots on the skin.

The government recommend the daily allowance of vitamin C is 40mg - which most people will achieve by eating a sensible diet.

Recommended daily allowance and food sources

The government recommend the daily allowance of vitamin C is 40mg - which most people will achieve by eating a sensible diet. Besides oranges, foods rich in vitamin C include papaya, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, peppers, strawberries and pineapple.

People who smoke need more vitamin C than the average person because smoking depletes vitamin C in the body’s tissue and blood.

Taking vitamin C orally produces tissue and plasma concentrations that the body tightly controls. This means that even if you take too much vitamin C, your body will simply absorb the required amount and the rest will just pass through the urine. However, large doses of vitamin C can give you diarrhoea, stomach pain and flatulence.

The total body content of vitamin C ranges from 300mg to about 2g. High levels of vitamin C are maintained in cells and tissues, and are highest in white blood cells, eyes, adrenal glands, pituitary gland, and brain. Relatively low levels of vitamin C are found in extracellular fluids, such as plasma, red blood cells, and saliva.

Vitamin C supplements

A multivitamin, like Seven Seas Perfect7 Woman, contains 60mg of vitamin C and is a blend of Natural Source Marine Oil and Omega-3 plus essential multivitamins and minerals.

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