WHAT EXACTLY IS VITAMIN C?
Vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C is also vital to your body’s healing process.
Some animals can make their own vitamin C, but people must get this vitamin from food and other sources. Good sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits.
It is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts say. Though it may not be the cure for the common cold, the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.
WHAT IS THE PROPER Dosage WHEN TAKING VITAMIN C?
The tolerable upper intake level (or the maximum amount you can take in a day that likely won’t cause harm) is 2000 mg a day for adults.
Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose is not a concern. But it’s still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.
Role of Vitamin C in the Body
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including the formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals and toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to developing health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Water-soluble vitamins must be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. Eat vitamin-C-rich fruits and vegetables raw or cook them with minimal water to avoid losing some of the water-soluble vitamins in the cooking water.
Vitamin C is easily absorbed both in food and in pill form, and it can enhance the absorption of iron when the two are eaten together.
What Are The Health Benefits of Vitamin C?
Stress. A deficiency in vitamin C is associated with many stress-related diseases. It is the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers, and obese individuals. And because vitamin C is one of the nutrients sensitive to stress, Maintaining levels of vitamin C can be an ideal marker for overall health.
Colds. When it comes to the common cold, vitamin C is not a cure, but some studies show that it may help prevent more severe complications. There is good evidence taking vitamin C for colds and flu can reduce the risk of developing further complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections.
Stroke. Although research has been conflicting, one study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that those with the highest concentrations of vitamin C in their blood were associated with 42% lower stroke risk than those with the lowest concentrations. The reasons for this are not completely clear. But what is clear is that people who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables have higher blood levels of vitamin C.
Skin Aging. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body, and its antioxidant properties can be beneficial when it comes to aging. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. Higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging appearance. In addition, topical treatments with Vitamin C have been shown in some studies to reduce wrinkles
Other studies have suggested that vitamin C may also: Improve macular degeneration, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Sources of Vitamin C
The richest in vitamin C are citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, white potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Other good sources include dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, winter squash, and pineapples.
Vitamin C Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin C is relatively rare and primarily seen in malnourished adults. Persistent lack of vitamin C in your diet can lead to a condition called scurvy. Symptoms of scurvy include easy bruising, easy bleeding, and joint and muscle pains. Vitamin C deficiency can be treated with supplements and a rich diet.
The most common risk factors for vitamin C deficiency are poor diet, alcoholism, anorexia, severe mental illness, smoking, and dialysis.
WHAT ARE THE Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency?
Rough, Bumpy Skin-Vitamin C plays a crucial role in collagen production, a protein abundant in connective tissues like skin, hair, joints, bones, and blood vessels. When vitamin C levels are low, a skin condition known as keratosis pilaris can develop. Bumpy “chicken skin” forms on the back of the upper arms, thighs, or buttocks due to keratin protein buildup inside the pores.
Keratosis pilaris caused by vitamin C deficiency typically appears after three to five months of inadequate intake and resolves with supplementation.
Corkscrew-Shaped Body Hair
Vitamin C deficiency can also cause hair to grow in bent or coiled shapes due to defects that develop in hair’s protein structure as it grows. Corkscrew-shaped hair is one of the hallmark signs of vitamin C deficiency but may not be obvious, as these damaged hairs are more likely to break off or fall out. Hair abnormalities often resolve within one month of treatment with adequate amounts of vitamin C.
Bright Red Hair Follicles
Hair follicles on the skin’s surface contain many tiny blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the area. When the body is deficient in vitamin C, these tiny blood vessels become fragile and break easily, causing small, bright red spots to appear around the hair follicles.
This is known as perifollicular hemorrhage and a well-documented sign of severe vitamin C deficiency. Taking vitamin C supplements typically resolves this symptom within two weeks.
Spoon-Shaped Fingernails With Red Spots or Lines
Spoon-shaped nails are characterized by their concave shape and often thin and brittle. They are more commonly associated with iron deficiency anemia but have also been linked to vitamin C deficiency.
Red spots or vertical lines in the nail bed, known as splinter hemorrhage, may also appear during vitamin C deficiency due to weakened blood vessels that rupture easily.
Dry, Damaged Skin
Healthy skin contains large amounts of vitamin C, especially in the epidermis or outer layer of skin. Vitamin C keeps skin healthy by protecting it from oxidative damage caused by the sun and exposure to pollutants like cigarette smoke or the ozone. It also promotes collagen production, which keeps skin looking plump and youthful.
High intakes of vitamin C are associated with better skin quality, while lower intakes are associated with a 10% increased risk of developing dry, wrinkled skin.
Bruising occurs when blood vessels under the skin rupture, causing blood to leak into the surrounding areas. Easy bruising is a common sign of vitamin C deficiency since insufficient collagen production causes weak blood vessels.
Deficiency-related bruises may cover large body areas or appear as small, purple dots under the skin. Vitamin C deficiency weakens blood vessels, causing easy bruising.
Slowly Healing Wounds
Since vitamin C deficiency slows the rate of collagen formation; it causes wounds to heal more slowly.
Painful, Swollen Joints
Since joints contain a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue, they can also be affected by vitamin C deficiency.
There have been many reported cases of joint pain associated with vitamin C deficiency, often severe enough to cause limping or difficulty walking. In extreme cases, bleeding can occur within the joints, causing painful swelling.
Vitamin C deficiency can also affect bone health. Low intake has been linked to an increased risk of fracture and osteoporosis. Vitamin C is essential for bone formation, and deficiency can increase the risk of developing weak and brittle bones.
Bleeding Gums and Tooth Loss
Red, swollen, bleeding gums are another common sign of vitamin C deficiency. Without adequate vitamin C, the gum tissue becomes weakened and inflamed, and blood vessels bleed more easily. Red, bleeding gums are a common sign of vitamin C deficiency, leading to tooth loss.
Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the immune system. Low vitamin C levels are linked to an increased risk of infection, while a severe deficiency can cause death from infectious diseases.
Persistent Iron Deficiency Anemia
Vitamin C and iron deficiency anemia often occur together. Signs of iron deficiency anemia include paleness, fatigue, trouble breathing during exercise, dry skin and hair, headache, and spoon-shaped fingernails. Low levels of vitamin C may contribute to iron deficiency anemia by reducing iron absorption from plant-based foods and negatively affecting iron metabolism. Vitamin C deficiency also increases the risk of excessive bleeding, which can contribute to anemia.
Fatigue and Poor Mood
Signs of fatigue and poor mood can appear even with low-to-normal levels of vitamin C, but they quickly turn around with adequate vitamin C intake.
Unexplained Weight Gain
Vitamin C may help protect against obesity by regulating the release of fat from fat cells, reducing stress hormones, and decreasing inflammation. Low vitamin C intake has been linked to increased body fat in humans, but other factors may be involved, such as diet quality.
Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Vitamin C is one of the body’s most important water-soluble antioxidants. It helps prevent cellular damage by neutralizing free radicals that can cause oxidative stress and inflammation in the body. Regular consumption of antioxidants like vitamin C is associated with health benefits, while low intakes may increase inflammation and oxidative stress.