Vitamin C is the most famous vitamin of all time. It’s been marketed in many forms, pill, capsule, chewable and soluble, and is famous for its ability to build antibody resistance and thus, defend the body from the common cold. However, vitamin C is a much more powerful nutritional supplement than is implied by its single claim to fame, and is much easier and cheaper to access than any other vitamin.
Vitamin C is famous in its role in the prevention of cold, and its natural antihistamine property of reducing the severity of cold symptoms, and shortening the duration of the cold. Researchers also link vitamin C to the control of allergies, through its ability to imitate antihistamine, and counter act the effects of histamine, when it is released by the immune system in response to allergies.
Vitamin C is essential to collagen formation, collagen being a component of scar tissues, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Hence, vitamin C is of vital importance to wound healing, and recovery. Sufficient vitamin C increases the speed with which wounds heal, and maintains cartilage and bone tissue, which are critical to the prevention of osteoporosis and bone fractures.
Researchers claim that due to its antioxidant properties Vitamin C protects cells and their DNA against damage and mutation, and reduces the risk of cancer, due to its nourishment and support of the immune system, and ability to inhibit cancer-causing compounds. The vitamin does not, however, imitate the immune system in its attack of cancer, which has already occurred.
In its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C also aids in the prevention of heart disease by eliminating free radicals produced by metabolism, free radicals which threaten to damage artery walls, and cholesterol. Further, Vitamin C improves blood cholesterol levels, aids in the breakdown of cholesterol to bile in the liver, promotes regulation of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol, and prevents the oxidation of cholesterol in the bloodstream, all of which decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke.
The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C is set at forty milligrams, for males aged nineteen and older, and thirty milligrams for females aged nineteen and older. Obtaining this dosage is relatively simple, since vitamin C is readily available in healthy well balanced meals; it is found in many brightly coloured fruits and vegetables including citrus fruits, guava, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, tomatoes, bell peppers, leafy greens and sweet potatoes.
Although toxicity cases are rare, due to Vitamin C being a water-soluble vitamin, and therefore readily excreted, continued intake of doses that are greater than two thousand milligrams per day, may cause a number of complications.
Fruits and vegetables are important to sufficient vitamin consumption, but more so of vitamin C consumption. Like all other vitamins and minerals, a healthy well-balanced meal is vital to the intake and absorption of vitamin C.