Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is an essential nutrient that is found naturally in all fruits and vegetables, although some have much higher concentrations. Vitamin C is water-soluble and as one of the least stable of the vitamins, cooking can destroy much of its nutritional value. The body does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, nor does it store it. It is water-soluble and any excess is passed in the urine. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.
“Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps repair tissue, gums, and adrenal glands. It aids in the production of interferon and anti-stress hormones, protects against the harmful effects of pollution, enhances immune system function, and improves the body’s assimilation of iron.” ~Rawsome!: Maximizing Health, Energy, and Culinary Delight With the Raw Foods Diet by Brigitte Mars
Vitamin C is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Foods that tend to be the highest sources of vitamin C include green peppers, citrus fruits and juices, kiwifruit, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Other excellent sources include papaya, mango, watermelon, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, winter squash, red peppers, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and pineapples.
Too little vitamin C can lead to signs and symptoms of deficiency, including:
- Dry and splitting hair
- Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
- Bleeding gums
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- Decreased wound-healing rate
- Easy bruising
- Weakened tooth enamel
- Swollen and painful joints
- Decreased ability to fight infection
- Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
Vitamin C needs are increased with all kinds of stress, both internal (emotional) and external (environmental). Smoking decreases vitamin C levels and increases the minimum needs. Birth control pills, estrogen, cortisone, and aspirin also increase vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C is useful to those withdrawing from addictions including narcotics, alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and even sugar. Ascorbic acid may decrease withdrawal symptoms from these substances and increase the overall feeling of well-being.
The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins, including vitamin C, is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods. However, since vitamin C is not stored in the body, it is the most consumed nutrient supplement. It is best to divide the daily intake into multiple doses or taken as a time-released tablet.
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