Vitamin C is oftentimes thought of as the wonder antioxidant probably because of its many benefits to the body.
Everyone knows how it helps to prevent or get over a cold but there is much more to this popular vitamin. Here are some facts that will be of interest to you.
The Scientific Details
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. The name comes from an antioxidant contained within it called ascorbate. You can get it naturally from fruits and vegetables or you can take it as a pill in supplemental form. Orange juice is a popular and tasty beverage and it is packed with vitamin C naturally.
This vitamin was first discovered in 1932 and manufactured commercially around 1934. To augment its occurrence in fruits and vegetables, many other foods are fortified with it as an additive. For example, many cereals are fortified with vitamin C.
It might surprise you that animals, with the exception of bats, can produce their own vitamin C. However, such is not the case with humans and they need to either get it from food sources or take it as a supplement or both.
Benefits of Vitamin C
In addition to preventing and shortening common colds, vitamin C has several other health benefits to include:
• Neutralization of nitrates
• Promotes healthy connective tissue
• Promotes healthy skin
• Decreases bad cholesterol levels (LDL cholesterol)
• Helps the body absorb iron
Nitrates are a type of preservative used in processed meat and other foods. Some think that nitrates are a carcinogen and there is some evidence that vitamin C neutralizes them.
For skin, vitamin C is effective in maintaining its health and elasticity. Furthermore, because of vitamin C’s ability to neutralize free radicals, new skin cells can form without being harmed by their effects. Free radicals are agents that are thought to be cancer causing because they damage skin and other body tissue. It also helps skin maintain its elasticity which keeps it from forming wrinkles.
Food Sources of Vitamin C
As mentioned before, vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables such as:
• Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges)
• Dark green leafy vegetables
The list doesn’t end there. When getting vitamin C from these vegetable and fruit sources, it is important to try to consume them as soon as possible after harvesting because they tend to lose their antioxidant properties the longer they are stored. Furthermore, vitamin C tends to deplete in foods while exposed to heat and light thus they should be stored in a place that is both cool and dark.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Vitamin C is water soluble and this property means that it must get replenished daily. Remember that humans cannot store it and any excess will get flushed out of a person’s system through urine.
When a person is under extreme stress, the body tends to excrete more vitamin C. Other factors that will deplete vitamin C include advanced age, pollution, and excessive exercise.
When a person has a deficiency in vitamin C, maladies such as muscle weakness, bleeding gums, pain in the joints and muscles, various infections, and anemia can all result.
How Much Vitamin C?
Recommendations are to take 2,000 mg each day to get all of the benefits from this wonder vitamin. There are some who do vitamin C research and believe you can take more however consider that any excess will get passed or have side effects. Usually, getting the vitamin from food sources and then taking a supplement will supply you with what you need.
You can take too much vitamin C so it is good to stay within the recommended guidelines. The side effects of taking too much of the vitamin include vomiting, headaches, abdominal cramps, and heartburn. Also, kidney stones can result from taking high dosages of it. However, in some cases, a doctor might recommend a higher dosage for isolated conditions.
Vitamin C is among the most important vitamins that you need in your daily diet. Its benefits which make it a wonder vitamin are too many to pass up. Plus, it is the most important vitamin needed for fighting off the common cold. Take a look at the foods that you consume daily and make sure that you are getting plenty of fruits and vegetables plus take a supplement and you will do much to prevent this illness and other maladies.
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