Vitamin C

Feb 4th, 2010 | By | Category: Featured, Health

Vitamin C also known as Ascorbic acid is found naturally particularly in citrus fruits such as oranges and also in vegetables. For example foods that tend to have highest sources of vit C are green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, papaya, mango, watermelon, cauliflower, cabbage, and pineapples. 

Vit C is necessary for the body to form collagen which is found in skin, bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. It is essential for wound healing and maintenance of healthy skin, cartilage and bone. It is not naturally produced in the body therefore you need to take in a good supply of adequate vit c through your diet. Best sources are fresh fruits and vegetables.  

It is also important to note that vit c is heat labile which means it gets destroyed when exposed to heat. Food processing may destroy some of the vitamins. For example, exposure to air, drying, salting, or cooking (especially in copper pots), mincing of fresh vegetables, or mashing potatoes may reduce the amount of vitamin C in foods. Freezing does not usually cause loss of vitamin C unless foods are stored for a very long time.

The Food and Nutrition Board at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following amounts of vitamin C:

Infants and Children

  • 0 – 6 months: 40 milligrams/day (mg/day)
  • 7 – 12 months: 50 mg/day
  • 1 – 3 years: 15 mg/day
  • 4 – 8 years: 25 mg/day
  • 9 – 13 years: 45 mg/day


  • Girls 14 – 18 years: 65 mg/day
  • Boys 14 – 18 years: 75 mg/day


  • Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
  • Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day

For pregnant/breastfeeding women and smokers the amounts are higher. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin therefore excess amounts will not be stored in the body however amounts greater than 2000mg/day are not recommended.

Too little vit C can lead to 

  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Bleeding gums
  • Rough, dry, scaly skin
  • Decreased wound-healing rate
  • Easy bruising
  • Nosebleeds
  • Weakened tooth enamel
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Anemia
  • Decreased ability to fight infection
  • Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism

 Scurvy is a severe form of vit C deficiency.

Vitamin C has many other uses. Scientific evidence has suggested that high doses of vitamin C can help treat cancer. As a matter of fact, in some areas of the world, some alternative physicians use IV sodium ascorbate, the injected form of vitamin c, to treat cancer and result in better prognosis. However it has been found that Vit C has no effect on prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

It is common practice among us to take about 500mg/day of Vit C to prevent getting a cold when we think we are at risk of getting one. But research done to see whether it has a benefit of that sort doesn’t say so!  According to the article in Mayoclinic, more than 30 clinical trials including over 10,000 participants have examined the effects of taking daily vitamin C on cold prevention. Overall, no significant reduction in the risk of developing colds has been observed, no change of severity either but there is a small significant reduction in the duration of colds! I guess this is good enough news for most of us.


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