In humans, vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant, acting to lessen oxidative stress, a substrate for ascorbate peroxidase, as well as an enzyme cofactor for the biosynthesis of many important biochemicals.
Vitamin C acts as an electron donor for eight different enzymes and fights off the effects of having high cholesterol.
The richest natural sources of Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, and of those, the Australian Kakadu Plum and the camu camu fruit contain the highest concentration of the vitamin. It is also present in some cuts of meat, especially liver. Vitamin C is the most widely taken nutritional supplement and is available in a variety of forms, including tablets, drink mixes, crystals in capsules or naked crystals.
Scurvy is an avitaminosis resulting from lack of vitamin C, since without this vitamin, the synthesised collagen is too unstable to perform its function. Scurvy leads to the formation of liver spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from all mucous membranes.
It has been shown that smokers who have diets poor in vitamin C are at a higher risk of lung-borne diseases than those smokers who have higher concentrations of Vitamin C in the blood.
The North American Dietary Reference Intake recommends 90 milligrams of Vitamin C per day and no more than 2 grams per day (2000 milligrams per day). Higher doses of Vitamin C (thousands of milligrams) may result in diarrhea and large doses may also cause indigestion, particularly when taken on an empty stomach.
The biological halflife for vitamin C is fairly short, about 30 minutes in blood plasma.
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