Immune, Joint disorders | September 14, 2017 | Author: Naturopath
Most people think of vitamin C when thinking of the common cold but there is a lot more to vitamin C than just supporting our immune system.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid and in its synthetic form, L-ascorbic acid.
It is a water soluble nutrient found in fruit and vegetables or in supplement form.
It is needed by the human body but is unable to be made in the body, therefore must be obtained from the foods we eat.
An antioxidant protects us from free radical damage. It is thought that an excess of free radicals are the reason we get certain diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. Although a certain amount of free radicals is expected in the body in its everyday maintenance, it is when we have an excess that disease can start to take hold.
It is thought that by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals we might limit or even prevent the development of diseases such as cancer.
Controls oxidative activity. When the immune system is stimulated it uses a lot of oxygen and free radicals are generated. This is a good thing as this sudden burst is what helps destroy viruses and bacteria’s assaulting the body, removing offending damaged cells; vitamin C is the overseer of this activity.
As a body guard to protect all water substances in the body.
Vitamin C is needed for the formation of the fibrous structural protein of connective tissue called collagen. Collagen is the matrix for which bone and teeth are made. Some areas where there is an increased need for collagen production include:
Vitamin C helps with energy production, conversion of amino acids to neurotransmitters, and assists with the making of hormones.
Vitamin C deactivates histamine in the body. Histamine is what causes the itching, welts and nasal congestion associated with allergic reactions.
The Adrenal gland contains more Vitamin C than any other organ in the body.
Physical stress raises the need for Vitamin C. Burns, infections, extremes in temperature, heavy metal toxicity, smoking, some medications such as the contraceptive pill increase the need for Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is absorbed through dose dependant active transport systems and passive absorption in the small intestine.
Take too much vitamin C and you will lose most of it in your urine as the absorption ability falls as the amount increases. Results from pharmacokinetic studies indicate that taking oral doses of 1.25 g/day ascorbic acid will increase absorption by about two times higher than consuming 200–300 mg/day ascorbic acid from vitamin C-rich foods.
Vitamin C is found highest in leukocytes (white blood cells), eyes, brain, adrenal and pituitary glands, and pancreas. Micro amounts have found in extracellular fluid such as saliva, blood plasma and red blood cells. The total concentration of vitamin C in the body ranges from between 300mg (close to scurvy) and 1.25 grams.
Extreme Vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy causing fatigue, connective tissue weakness throughout the body and capillary fragility (causing bruising and bleeding). Less extreme deficiency includes dry and splitting hair; gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; poor wound healing, easy bruising; nosebleeds; and increases infection.
Freshly picked fruits and vegetables are the best source of Vitamin C. Try consuming regular amount throughout your day; a handful of strawberries or kiwi fruit at breakfast; an orange for morning T; tomatoes, avocado, and red cabbage at lunch; bell pepper, broccoli, brussel sprouts or spinach lightly steamed for dinner (don’t overcook as heat will reduce the vitamin C levels).
If using supplements you may notice vitamin C described in a number of different ways;
Ascorbic acid is vitamin C. Calcium ascorbate, sodium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate etc are ascorbic acid buffered by mineral salts and are generally thought to be much gentler on the stomach. They may have slightly less vitamin c to account for the mineral attached.
Vitamin C with bioflavonoids? Bioflavonoids or flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds found in fruit and vegetables usually with vitamin C, and have numerous beneficial activities in their own right.
Irritated gastric lining, diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramping are all associated with overdosage and toxicity. Avoid using too much vitamin c if you have gout - due to the acidic nature of C.
The bottom line if you are suffering from allergies, are prone to infections, have poor wound healing or are easily bruising; if your arthritis is playing up or you would like to prevent oxidative damage - think Vitamin C.
Whitney, Cataldo, Rolfes, (2002) Understanding Normal and Clinical Nutrition 6th Edition, Wadsworth, USA
Osiecki H, The Nutrient Bible 9th edition, Bio Concepts Publishing