What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which is naturally present in certain food products, like oranges and lemons, and is also available as a dietary supplement. Also called L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C cannot be synthesised by the body naturally, which makes it essential to be consumed in the diet. This vitamin not only aids in the normal functioning of the body, the most necessary being the biosynthesis of collagen fibres, but also it has numerous benefits for health.

What are collagen fibres?

Collagen is the main structural protein in the connective tissue (tissues that connect and support other body tissues), making around 25% to 35% of the total protein content of your body. It is the major component of bones, cartilages, tendons, skin, ligaments, and fascia. Having great tensile strength, collagen is responsible for maintaining the strength, elasticity and firmness of the skin, which gradually diminishes with advancing age. There are 28 types of collagen fibres that have been discovered so far, but 90% of the collagen present in the human body is type 1.

Since vitamin C helps in the synthesis of collagen fibres, it has a major role in the process of wound healing, recovery and tissue regeneration. Additionally, is a powerful antioxidant accentuating the activity of other antioxidants in the body like vitamin E, and helping reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Vitamin C also improves the absorption of non-haem iron from the food. In addition, this vitamin has a significant role in enhancing your immunity.

  1. Vitamin C rich foods
  2. Benefits of Vitamin C
  3. Vitamin C deficiency
  4. Vitamin C overdose
Doctors for Vitamin C Benefits, Foods, Sources & Side Effects

Vitamin C is present in the following food products and fruits:

  • Citrus fruits like orange, lemon, grapefruit, sweet lemon
  • Berries like strawberry, gooseberry, blueberry, raspberry and cranberry
  • Melon and watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Vegetables like broccoli, red peppers, green pepper, and cauliflower.
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach, cabbage and turnip.
  • Sweet and white potatoes.
  • Some packaged foods like cereals and pulses also contain vitamin C (which can be checked on the ingredients table of the packaging).
  • Vitamin C is also available in the form of capsules, tablets and artificial supplements, available for special doses and treatments.

Vitamin C rich foods should be consumed raw, since cooking, heating or microwaving can reduce their nutritional content and the amount of vitamin C in them. Similarly, storing them for long or keeping them in daylight is also not recommended. While buying store-bought juices and packaged fruits, solid cartons must be preferred since they will protect the nutritional contents of the food from excessive light. These fruits and vegetables are best eaten fresh and uncooked, after washing.

Now that we know which foods are rich in vitamin C, let’s discuss some of the uses and benefits of vitamin C:

  • Promotes wound healing: Vitamin C is an excellent wound healing agent. Not only does it prevent wounds from being infected but also they facilitate wound closing with minimal scar formation.
  • Good for skin: Vitamin C is used in oral and topical applications to promote healing of sunburns. It plays an important part in the formation of collagen and elastin that improve skin tautness and elasticity. Due to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C is helpful in keeping ageing signs at bay.
  • Improves immunity: Vitamin C stimulates immune system cells to fight against infections and it also reduces oxidative stress, thereby keeping your immunity strong. Also, it prevents the entry of pathogens in your body by strengthening skin barriers.
  • Benefits for gums: Vitamin C prevents bacterial infections, stimulates immunity and promotes collagen production in gums thereby preventing gum bleeding and infections.
  • Helps lose weight: Vitamin C is a natural weight loss agent. It helps burn excessive fats in your body and improves metabolism, thereby facilitating weight reduction.
  • Improves memory: Studies suggest that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C are helpful in reducing inflammation and free radical damage in brain, which is otherwise responsible for age-related memory loss and reduction in cognition.

Vitamin C for wound healing

Various researchers have claimed that vitamin C has an essential role in the process of wound healing, and is required at each phase of the process. In the inflammatory stage, it is required for neutrophil apoptosis, which is responsible for the inflammatory action at the wound site. Inflammation (swelling, redness, and rise in temperature) at the wound site is essential to control infection and bleeding.

In the second stage of wound healing, which involves the rebuilding of new granular tissue at the wound site by collagen fibers, vitamin C has an important role since it is involved in the synthesis and maturation of these fibers. Vitamin C is also essential in the process of wound maturation when haphazardly laid collagen fibers are remodelled to type 1 fibers.

Research evidence suggests that a lack of vitamin C in the body causes improper or delayed wound healing, often leaving behind a thick or deep scar tissue. It has been recognized that 4 grams of ascorbic acid (or vitamin C) helps to significantly improve the quality of the collagen tissue synthesized. Doctors often provide vitamin C supplements to patients to assist the process of wound healing and to ensure minimal scarring.

Is Vitamin C good for skin

Have you always dreamt of radiant youthful skin but don’t know what to do about it? Well, we’d suggest you include more and more vitamin C in your diet. Here is why.

Vitamin C is involved in the biosynthesis of collagen fibers, which are responsible for maintaining the normal elasticity of your skin. It is also a powerful antioxidant fighting against free radicals to avoid damage to your body cells. These two reasons make it excellent for avoiding wrinkles and giving a natural glow to your face.

Read more: Home remedies for face skin tightening

But that’s not it, research evidence suggests that vitamin C is used in the treatment of sunburns and tans when taken orally or applied topically. Researchers have also claimed that vitamin C helps in treating skin discolouration, age spots and freckles, along with improving the texture of your skin, to make it smoother and softer. 

Read more: Home remedies for smooth and soft skin

Importance of vitamin C for bones

Within your bones, 90% of the matrix proteins are made of collagen, which suggests that it is essential for your bones and their normal health, and so is vitamin C since it is involved in the synthesis of this essential protein in your body. Various researches have claimed the positive effects of vitamin C on bone health in terms of bone formation and the expression of genes that code for the bone matrix.

Research findings have also concluded that individuals receiving vitamin C supplements had a lesser bone loss than those who did not. Due to these evident actions of vitamin C on improving bone function, it has also been suggested to be used for the treatment of osteoporosis.

Vitamin C and iron

Vitamin C is immensely involved in the process of absorption of non-haem iron from the body. While haem iron can be easily absorbed and is not affected by dietary constitution, non-haem iron is harder to be absorbed by the body, since it binds to other components like dietary fibers or tea.

Vitamin C has a role in this absorption in that it reverses or inhibits the binding effects of other food items (inhibitors) with non-haem iron. Among the non-haem iron, the absorption of iron from foods which has lesser amounts of it, like vegetable sources, is directly dependent on the concentration of vitamin C, as evidenced by various researchers. In situations of high iron requirement and low energy, the addition of vitamin C is highly beneficial as proved by various scientific studies.

Read more: iron deficiency

Vitamin C supplement for better immunity

Do you often suffer from common cold and running nose, particularly during changing weathers? Maybe your immunity has got more to do with it than the continuous downpour. Let’s explore how we can help ourselves with vitamin C.

Vitamin C increases the production of WBCs (white blood cells) by the body, which is responsible for protecting the body against infections by enhancing your immunity. It also helps WBCs to function effectively since it protects them from damage against free radicals. In addition to this, vitamin C enhances the defence mechanism of your skin and the skin barriers, thereby preventing the entry of microorganisms

Read more: Immunity boosting foods

Vitamin C and memory

With increasing age, the risk of developing disorders that affect memory and cognition is accentuated. Although mild changes in an individual’s mental health and capabilities are inevitable with advancing age, the progress to more severe symptoms of forgetfulness and loss of memory can be avoided in many ways, of which, supplementing your diet with vitamin C is found to be immensely effective.

This can be stated on the basis of numerous studies which have time and again proved that individuals with dementia have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood. This is further based on the fact that vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and prevents oxidative stress, inflammation and damage to the brain.

So, for positive effects on your mental health, you may supplement your diet with vitamin C, especially during advancing age and prevent and delay age-related disorders.

Read more: Dementia symptoms

Vitamin C reduces Gout

Gout, which is characterized by severe pain, swelling and tenderness in joints is a complex form of arthritis that can affect anyone. But, you can protect yourself from the risk of developing this disease by supplementing your diet with vitamin C.

Read more: Joint pain causes

According to a study published in Archives of Internal Medicine, it was proved that consumption of vitamin C is directly proportional to a reduced risk of gout. The result findings were such that a 500 mg increase in the quantity of vitamin C consumed daily, reduced the risk of gout by 17%, and a 1500 mg increase further dropped the risk by 45%.

Read more: Home remedies for gout pain

Vitamin C for gums

Do you suffer from bleeding gums? While you brush each day and see glimpses of blood and wonder why? We’d suggest make changes in your diet and if need be to take vitamin C supplements. As you by now may be aware that vitamin C helps in collagen production and has a significant role in immunity. Your gum tissue is highly made of collagen. So, vitamin C has a dual function on your gums. Not only does it support their structure, but also fights disease-causing microorganisms in the mouth responsible for your symptoms. Dentists recommend making the use of vitamin C toothpaste and mouthwash for the best results.

Read more: Swollen gums causes

Vitamin C helps in prevention of cancer

A nutritious and fresh diet is often recommended by doctors for the prevention and management of cancer. Fruits containing vitamin C are thus often prescribed. This can be attributed to the cancer-protective functions of vitamin C, as evidenced by various researchers. Although a high dose vitamin C intravenously has also been tried in this regard, the side effects of this therapy suggest making a switch to the usual measures and diet substitution to enhance longevity and quality of life in those affected with cancer, and as a protective measure for others.

Vitamin C weight loss

Are you exercising regularly and eating healthy but still not losing those extra kilos? Maybe your diet plan lacks something, could be vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential in the process of weight loss since it helps to metabolise fats, which helps you to achieve a healthy weight and BMI. It also boosts your metabolism, enhancing the speed with which you lose weight, while not making you feel low on energy. Vitamin C does not get stored in the body and it also improves excretion, which is likely to relieve bloating as well.

Read more: Diet chart for weight loss

Importance of vitamin C for the heart

Heart diseases are caused due to several risk factors like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides. By reducing these risk factors, vitamin C helps to avoid cardiovascular diseases. Cardioprotective actions of vitamin C have been well known, but natural sources (food and fruits) have been known to have better effects as compared to artificial supplements, lowering the risk of heart diseases by almost 25%.

Read more: Foods to reduce and control high cholesterol

Vitamin C for diabetes

Diabetic people often suffer from fluctuations in their blood sugar levels, which increases the risk of hypoglycemia and fainting. Having a diet rich in vitamin C will help to stabilise and regulate these levels within the normal range. But be mindful of the quantity consumed, since some of the fruits (mangoes for example) can have a high sugar content.

Read more: What to eat and what not to eat in diabetes

Vitamin C dosage per day

Vitamin C is available in ample amounts in fresh fruits and vegetables. It is also available as supplements, tablets and mouthwashes, which you should only consume if recommended by your physician or dentist, to avoid any side effects or toxicity.

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C for all age groups is mentioned below. However, it may vary based on individual height, weight and other factors, and a physician’s consult is necessary before making any dietary changes.

Age Male Female
up to 6 months 40 mg 40 mg
7 months to 1 year 50 mg 50 mg
1 year to 3 years 15 mg 15 mg
4 years to 8 years 25 mg 25 mg
9 years to 13 years 45 mg 45 mg
14 years to 18 years 75 mg 65 mg
19 years and beyond (adult dosage) 90 mg 75 mg

Besides the abovementioned quantities for women, pregnant and breastfeeding women should take additional vitamin C:

  • The recommended daily intake of vitamin E for pregnant women is 85mg
  • Lactating women should take 125 mg of vitamin per day

Deficiency of vitamin C is known to cause scurvy, which exhibits the following signs and symptoms:

  • Characteristic spoon-shaped nails
  • Dry, damaged skin
  • Poor wound healing
  • Easy bruising
  • Pain in bones or joint pain
  • Bone deformities in children
  • Anemia
  • Poor immunity, as reflected by a higher susceptibility to infections.
  • Inflammation (swelling) of joints and generalized chronic (present for a long time) inflammation
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain

Inform your doctor immediately, if you experience any of these symptoms.

In case you consume more than the recommended values of vitamin C or have it for a very prolonged duration of time, the following side effects are likely to occur:

Read more: Stomach pain treatment

Be careful while consuming vitamin C if you have a history of hyperoxaluria (excessive excretion of oxalate via urination) since it increases the risk of developing kidney stones. If you suffer from hereditary hemochromatosis (excess iron), tissue damage is likely to occur after prolonged and excessive consumption of vitamin C. Do not to take any dietary supplements without your doctor’s prescription and consult.

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Dt. Akanksha Mishra

Nutritionist
8 Years of Experience

Surbhi Singh

Surbhi Singh

Nutritionist
22 Years of Experience

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Dr. Avtar Singh Kochar

Nutritionist
20 Years of Experience

Dr. priyamwada

Dr. priyamwada

Nutritionist
7 Years of Experience


Medicines / Products that contain Vitamin C

और पढ़ें ...

References

  1. National Institutes of Health; Office of Dietary Supplements. [Internet]. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services; Vitamin C.
  2. Block G. Vitamin C and cancer prevention: the epidemiologic evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Jan;53(1 Suppl):270S-282S. PMID: 1985398
  3. National Cancer Institute [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; High-Dose Vitamin C (PDQ®)–Patient Version
  4. Pullar JM, Carr AC, Vissers MCM. The Roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health. Nutrients. 2017 Aug 12;9(8). pii: E866. PMID: 28805671
  5. Spoelstra-de Man AME, Elbers PWG, Oudemans-Van Straaten HM. Vitamin C: should we supplement?. Curr Opin Crit Care. 2018 Aug;24(4):248-255. PMID: 29864039
  6. Alqudah MAY, Alzoubi KH, Ma'abrih GM, Khabour OF. Vitamin C prevents memory impairment induced by waterpipe smoke: role of oxidative stress. Inhal Toxicol. 2018 Mar - Apr;30(4-5):141-148. PMID: 29788804
  7. Ellulu MS, Rahmat A, Patimah I, Khaza'ai H, Abed Y. Effect of vitamin C on inflammation and metabolic markers in hypertensive and/or diabetic obese adults: a randomized controlled trial. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2015 Jul 1;9:3405-12. PMID: 26170625
  8. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: US National Library of Medicine; Vitamin C
  9. Moores J. Vitamin C: a wound healing perspective. Br J Community Nurs. 2013 Dec;Suppl:S6, S8-11. PMID: 24796079
  10. Patrick Aghajanian, Susan Hall, Montri D. Wongworawat, Subburaman Mohan. The Roles and Mechanisms of Actions of Vitamin C in Bone: New Developments. J Bone Miner Res. 2015 Nov; 30(11): 1945–1955. PMID: 26358868
  11. Lynch SR, Cook JD. Interaction of vitamin C and iron. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1980;355:32-44. PMID: 6940487
cross
Ask your health query now and get connected with a doctor within 10 minutes!