Vitamin C is a water soluble compound that most mammals are able to synthesise from glucose. We humans (because of a missing enzyme) do not produce endogenous vitamin C, so we must rely on diet or supplementation.
The adrenal glands use most of our vitamin C, with the brain being the next biggest user. The primary function of Vitamin C is in the manufacture of collagen – a protein necessary for the formation of connective tissue, tendons and cartilage. It plays an important role in the healing of wounds and burns, facilitating the formation of connective tissue in the scar. This wonder vitamin is also needed to help maintain healthy gums. Furthermore, it helps form collagen in the blood vessel walls that help maintain the walls, help them expand and contract, and help prevent bruising.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It helps with the ageing of body tissues and helps to fight bacterial infections. Vitamin C also aids in the formation of red blood cells and prevents haemorrhaging.
Vitamin C is necessary for the conversion of tryptophan into serotonin, the hormone that regulates sleep. It promotes the absorption of iron, calcium and taking a large amount of vitamin C may reduce serum levels of selenium and copper. Vitamin C protects against the toxic levels of heavy metals.
The absorption of vitamin C is through the mucous membranes of the mouth, stomach and upper part of the small intestine. The larger the dose, the less absorbed. E.g. With a dose of 250mg or less, 80% is absorbed. Meanwhile, taking 2g will result in an absorption of only 50%. This goes to say that more is not necessarily better unless it’s for therapeutic treatment. Most of the vitamin is excreted from the body within 3-4 hours so having several small doses a day is beneficial.
The body’s ability to absorb vitamin C is reduced by smoking, stress, high fever, also drinking excessive amounts of alcohol as the body uses so much of the vitamin to counteract the toxic effects of alcohol.
The quantity that is in our food depends on how the food has been handled before it reaches us. Vitamin C is vulnerable to light, air, and heat. This can cause the vitamin to deteriorate rapidly during transport, storage, and food preparation. Ways to cook so you don’t destroy the vitamin C are microwaving, steaming and stir-frying. (The less cooked the better!)
Vitamin C requirements differ in humans because of the weight of the individual, amount of activity, rate of metabolism, ailments, lifestyle and age. Periods of stress, infection, injury, surgery, burns and fatigue all increase the body’s need for vitamin C. Estrogentherapy increases the need for vitamin C and B6, and high protein diets need more vitamin C because these diets interfere with vitamin C metabolism.
To aid in the absorption of Vitamin C, choose a brand that has Bioflavonoids, as this protects the Vitamin C from oxidation and thereby enhances its effectiveness.
High doses of vitamin C may cause side effects in some people. Symptoms can include a slight burning sensation during urination, loose bowels or diarrhoea, intestinal gas or abdominal pain, skin rashes, and nausea.
Foods high in vitamin C:
Guava, Papaya, Bell Peppers, Citrus Fruits, Rose Hips, Acerolacherries, Alfalfa Seeds Sprouted, Black Currants, Grapefruit, Lemons, Orange Juice, Tomatoes, Pimientos, Cantaloupe, Strawberries, kiwi Fruit, broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Kale and Peas.