Yes, we all know that Vitamin C is good for us. Even the junkiest junk food will sell when the advertiser claims that it has a molecule of Vitamin C in it.
But why is Vitamin C so good for us?
Vitamin C is, among other things, an antioxidant. That means it tames free radical molecules by giving up one of its electrons to it. A free radical is an oxygen molecule that has an unpaired electron and is greedy to steal one from wherever it can. Sometimes it steals from necessary structures like DNA molecules and damages them. So, Vitamin C sacrifices its own electron to combat this.
Vitamin C, whose other name is ascorbic acid, is water soluble. The body doesn’t store it, but it excretes whatever it doesn’t use. One drawback of Vitamin C is that it’s not very stable and it can grow less potent by being exposed too long to oxygen, light and heat. It’s best to store it in a cool, dark, dry place, which of course, would not be the typical medicine cabinet.
Vitamin C is mainly responsible for making collagen, which is a protein that’s serves as a springy cushion beneath the skin and is also necessary to make connective tissue in the bones and ligaments. Vitamin C is also important in wound and burn healing precisely because it stimulates the formation of connective tissue.
Vitamin C also helps to form red blood cells and helps to prevent hemorrhaging. It also fights bacterial infections and helps the body fight off allergens. Vitamin C protects people against cataracts and supports high levels of HDL cholesterol, which is the “good” cholesterol. It also seems to help people with diabetes, glaucoma, hepatitis and asthma.
The recommended daily allowance of Vitamin C is about 60 milligrams, though people who are under stress need more. Pregnant women need about 10 mm extra per day of Vitamin C, while nursing mothers need from 30 to 35 mm extra per day.
On top of all this, Vitamin C is important in the working of other necessary substances in the body. It helps the metabolism of amino acids, especially tyrosine and phenylalanine and converts the unusable folic acid into folinic acid, which can be used by the body. Vitamin C also protects many of the B complex vitamins as well as its fellow antioxidants Vitamins A and E.
Fortunately, lots of fruits and vegetables are full of Vitamin C including citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, cantaloupes and strawberries.
What are some of your favorite ways to get your Vitamin C on? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!