Vitamin C: a general view
Many things have been told about vitamin C: in this article we are going to talk about some general information about this molecule and to explain some of its roles.
“Eat oranges in order to gain vitamin C”
Although this fruit contains a lot of vitamin C (59.2 mg/100 g), the amount of this vitamin needed by a person is much more higher so, considering that our body can’t produce it, that it has a low storage capacity and also that there’s often a deficiency due to different reasons such as poor dietary habits, smoke, pollution,… etc, a supplement would definitely be recommended. Linus Pauling, the only person who received two distinct Nobel prizes, set the amount at 2-3 g/day for healthy people and 5-6 g/day for people at risk of cardiovascular diseases (the reason will be explained later on).
Which food contains vitamin C?
Not only citrus fruit like lemons or oranges contain this vitamin, but also other kinds of fruits and vegetables like grapes (340 mg/100 g), pepperoni (166 mg/100 g), currant (200 mg/100 g) etc.
In general a complete diet should provide a good intake of this molecule: the fresher and more biological fruit and vegetables are, the better would be the content.
In dietary supplements vitamin C can be in the usual form of ascorbic acid, but some supplements have other forms, such as sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, other mineral ascorbates, and ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids. Ascorbic acid form can annoy people who suffer from stomachache, so in this case it’s better to assume the ascorbate forms, which are better tolerated (usually they have a buffered pH).
Vitamin C has different roles
The reason why this vitamin is really important in our body is explained by the different roles it plays: it is an antioxidant (so it reduces the quantity of free radicals, reactive molecules which can damage our cells), it acts as a cofactor for different enzymes (a cofactor is a molecule needed by an enzyme in order to do its role of biocatalyst of reactions), it helps the immune system working properly, it decreases the level of inflammation and it’s also involved in epigenetic regulation (the different gene expression due to environmental signals). It also helps to prevent cardiovascular diseases by helping the production of collagen and elastin, which are involved in the formation of blood vessels: to do this it also needs the amino acids L-lysine and proline.
If you think about vitamin C deficiency, the first thing that comes to mind is the “sailors disease” scurvy. Even if the risk of this disease is rare, the insufficiency of this vitamin is more frequent than you think: oxidative stress conditions like smoke, pollution or even hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes lead to a decrease in vitamin C levels.
Last but not least, it has been seen that people with deficiency were more susceptible to infections, in particular in respiratory tract and also that the supplementation of this vitamin could help to ameliorate both a “simple” condition of a cold and the symptoms of an acute severe respiratory infection.
“How to live 150 years in Health”, Dr. Dimitris Tsoukalas
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