Vitamin C – Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid, or simply ascorbate is an essential nutrient. Vitamin C works by helping to form and maintain collagen. Collagen is a protein that enhances the body’s ability to absorb iron.
Purpose: Vitamin C helps to heal wounds, prevent cell damage, promote healthy gums and teeth, strengthen the immune system, and absorb iron. It also helps neutralize free radicals in cells that promote aging, fight bacterial infections, and aid in the production of red blood cells.
Historically, vitamin C helped in the prevention and treatment of scurvy. Scurvy is now relatively rare, but it was once common among sailors, pirates, and others who spent long periods of time onboard ships.
Sources: Fresh fruit and berries (especially citrus fruits), green vegetables, onions, tomatoes, radishes, and rose hips are all excellent vitamin C sources.
Some sources with the highest levels of vitamin C are red and green hot chili peppers, Guavas, bell peppers, fresh herbs (thyme and parsley), dark leafy greens (kale, mustard greens), broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Kiwi Fruits, Papayas, oranges and Clementines (Tangerines), and strawberries. Notice the citrus fruits are down on the list.
Recommended Daily Allowances: Men and women should each consume at least 60 mg of vitamin C daily. Many things can increase the need of vitamin C in the body, including stress and smoking. For smokers, recommended intake increases to 110 mg for women and 125 mg for men. While not getting enough vitamin C can lead to scurvy, consuming more than 2000 mg on a daily basis can lead to headaches, increased urination, mild diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should not take more than the recommended amounts of Vitamin C.
Most excess vitamin C simply leaves the body with the urine, but continuous excessive doses can lead to bladder and kidney stones. Overdose of the vitamin can destroy B12, reduce the effectiveness of blood-thinners, lead to the loss of calcium, and cause diarrhea and nosebleed.
Some symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are fatigue, mood changes, weight loss, joint and muscle ache, bruising, dental conditions, dry hair and skin, and infections.