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VITAMIN C (Ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C is required in the synthesis of collagen in connective tissue, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, carnitine, conversion of cholesterol to bile acids and enhances iron bioavailability. Ascorbic acid is a great antioxidant and helps protect the body against pollutants. Because vitamin C is a biological reducing agent, it is also linked to prevention of degenerative diseases - such as cataracts, certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases.

Ascorbic acid also promotes healthy cell development, proper calcium absorption, normal tissue growth and repair, such as healing of wounds and burns. It assists in the prevention of blood clotting and bruising, and strengthening the walls of the capillaries.

Vitamin C is needed for healthy gums, to help protect against infection and assisting with clearing up infections and is thought to enhance the immune system and help reduce cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and prevents arteriosclerosis. Vitamin C can kill the antibiotic resistant tuberculosis bacteria.

Vitamin C is required to change proline into hydroxyproline (collagen) and lysine into hydroxylysine (collagen) which both help to repair tissue damage. It works best when accompanied by foods rich in rutin and hesperidin.

Nickel and vitamin C share a common antagonist; vitamin E. This inhibiting effect of vitamin E is not related to the antioxidative properties of vitamin C or vice versa (both are antioxidants, so in that respect they are synergistic), but they are antagonists ratio wise to one another, and to other chemical members: For instance, vitamin C increases iron uptake, which vitamin E inhibits. Vitamin C lowers manganese and zinc, while vitamin E helps increase manganese and zinc absorption. As a result, a very high intake of vitamin C will require an equally high intake of vitamin E to maintain the same ratio.

Foods that contain high amounts of vitamin C help the lungs effectively transport oxygen throughout the body and improve lung function protecting against respiratory disorders and lung cancer. They can also effectively dissolve bladder and kidney stones.

Deficiency of vitamin C

Deficiency can cause scurvy which is one of the most serious disease affecting children and teenagers. Vitamin C deficiency interferes with normal tissue synthesis and may result in the following conditions:

  • Anaemia

  • Bleeding under the skin and in deep tissues

  • Bronchial infections

  • Colds and coughs (frequent bouts)

  • Cracked lip corners

  • Influenza (frequent bouts)

  • Lack of energy and weakness

  • Oedema (swelling due to water retention)

  • Painful and stiff joints and lower extremities

  • Pinpoint haemorrhages under the skin

  • Poor digestion

  • Poor wound healing

  • Swollen, soft and spongy bleeding gums and loose teeth

  • The tendency to bruise easily

  • Virus infections

 

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NOTE: Prolonged deficiency of vitamin A leads to the rapid loss of vitamin C.

Studies show that smokers have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood than non-smokers and this is thought to be due to increased oxidative stress. Similarly, those regularly exposed to passive smoke have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood. People in these groups are advised to consume more vitamin C, up to 35 mg (50%) more than non-smokers.

Boiling or evaporating milk destroys any vitamin C it provides which can lead to vitamin C deficiency in infants fed boiled or evaporated milk.

Because vitamin C is found mainly in fresh fruits and vegetables, people who do not eat these foods or who do not vary their diet greatly are at risk of vitamin C deficiency.

Individuals with malabsorption diseases, like cachexia, are at increased risk of vitamin C deficiency. Other high-risk groups include those with cancer, end-stage renal disease (kidney failure) or chronic haemodialysis.

Consuming the juice of one whole freshly squeezed lemon per day added to drinks, teas and meals such as fish, vegetables, etc. can counteract vitamin C deficiency.

Toxicity of vitamin C

High consumption of foods rich in vitamin C have shown no toxicity dangers but high supplemental doses of vitamin C can increase levels of uric acid in the urine, because vitamin C can be broken down into uric acid. However, it is not clear if increased uric acid in the urine can increase a person's risk of developing uric acid bladder and kidney stones or gout.

NOTE: Vitamin C supplements might raise blood sugar. In older people with diabetes, vitamin C in amounts greater than 300 mg per day increases the risk of death from heart disease therefore it is wiser to choose foods rich in vitamin C rather than supplements.

Highest sources of vitamin C in milligrams per 100 grams

  1. Acerola cherries 1677.6 mg

  2. Camu camu berries 532 mg

  3. Rosehips 426 mg

  4. Green chillies 242.5 mg

  5. Guavas 228.3 mg

  6. Yellow bell peppers 183.5 mg

  7. Black currants 181 mg

  8. Thyme 160.01 mg

  9. Red chillies 143.7 mg

  10. Drumstick pods 141 mg

  11. Kale 120 mg

  12. Jalapeno peppers 118.6 mg

  13. Kiwi fruit 105.4 mg

  14. Sun dried tomatoes 102 mg

  15. Broccoli 89 mg

  16. Brussel sprouts 85 mg

  17. Cloves, saffron 81 mg

  18. Chilli pepper 76 mg

  19. Mustard greens 70 mg

  20. Cress 69 mg

  1. Persimmons fruit 66 mg

  2. Swede 62 mg

  3. Basil 61 mg

  4. Papaya 60 mg

  5. Rosemary 61 mg

  6. Pomelo fruit 61 mg

  7. Strawberries 58 mg

  8. Chives 58 mg

  9. Oranges 53.2 mg

  10. Lemons 53 mg

  11. Pineapple 48 mg

  12. Cauliflower 48 mg

  13. Kumquats 43.9 mg

  14. Watercress 43 mg

  15. Wasabi root 41.9 mg

  16. Kidney bean sprouts 38.7 mg

  17. Melon 36.7 mg

  18. Elderberries 36 mg

  19. Breadfruit 29 mg

  20. Coriander 27 mg

NOTE: The suggested recommended daily amount is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men although a gorilla consumes about 4000 mg of vitamin C a day in their natural diet.

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