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Vitamin C

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble, vital nutrient for many animals, including humans. It is an antioxidant which protects the body against oxidative stress. Vitamin C is also an organic compound which means it contains the elements carbon and oxygen and is a substance that exists in living things. It’s so essential to all living beings that mammals are able to use their body’s own cells to create it.

What does Vitamin C do?

Though widely known about and immeasurably used, many people only think Vitamin C is the go-to supplement for protection against colds and the like. It however, is needed and used for so much more. Vitamin C is involved in the process and production of the protein needed to create skin, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, called collagen. Vitamin C is necessary for wound healing, and for strengthening teeth and bones. You need vitamin C for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. Aside from it being used to build and repair, Vitamin C has a protective effect because it functions as an antioxidant and prevents damage to our cells.

Where is Vitamin C found?

Vitamin C is found principally in fruits and vegetables. Excellent food sources of vitamin C include broccoli, parsley, pineapple, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, cantaloupe, chard, lemon juice, currants, strawberries, mustard greens, kiwifruit, asparagus, papaya, kale, romaine lettuce, cauliflower, turnip greens, oranges, tomatoes, cabbage, summer squash, collard greens, potatoes, raspberries, spinach, green beans, fennel, cranberries, watermelon, grapefruit, and winter squash. Rose hips, harvested from rose bushes and sold as a supplement, are particularly high in vitamin C.

What happens when someone is Vitamin C deficient?

It’s quite rare to be extremely deficient in the vitamin C because many people consume fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. However, there are some people who possibly have lower levels of vitamin C and have increased their chances of a deficiency; and that includes smokers because cigarette smoking decreases the body’s amount of vitamin C.

Signs that there is a vitamin deficiency may include gingivitis, which is characterized by an inflammation and bleeding gums; dry skin; dry and splitting hair; easy bruising; a decreased ability to ward off infection, nosebleeds; and decreased rate of healing for wounds. The extreme form of a vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy.

Lower amounts of vitamin C have been connected with and to numerous conditions, including atherosclerosis which is a plaque build-up in the blood vessels which may increase chances of stroke and heart attacks, gallbladder disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.

If enough of the vitamin C is obtained from your diet by consuming large amounts of vegetables and fruit, this may help lessen the risks of being diagnosed with some of the stated conditions.

Helpful food sources, supplements and additional benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C comes in the form of many foods. If a supplement is wanted, it is also made in liquid, chewable, and pill formulations. Some added benefits of the nutrient Vitamin C include but are not limited to; the ability to better fight off infections, lower cholesterol levels, the healing of wounds, cardiovascular benefits, a lessened chance of cataracts, protection from cancer, scurvy, and prevention of certain occurrences in diabetic patients.

 

AIs (Adequate Intakes)

Infants
0-6 months
7-12 months
Milligrams per Day
40
50

RDAs (Recommended Dietary Allowances)

If you smoke, you need to add 35 milligrams per day of vitamin C. If you are regularly exposed to tobacco you need to make sure that you meet the RDA for vitamin C.

Children
1-3 years
4-8 years
Milligrams per Day
15
25
Males
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

45
75
90
90
90
90
Females
9-13 years
14-18 years
19-30 years
31-50 years
50-70 years
> 70 years

45
65
75
75
75
75
Pregnancy
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

80
85
85
Lactation
< 19 years
19-30 years
31-50 years

115
120
120

Source: USDA Dietary Reference Intakes