The Benefits of Vitamin C

vitcVitamin C also known as ascorbic acid  is an antioxidant.  It is an important nutrient needed by the human body for protection against damage from free radicals .

It is a water soluble vitamin which is excreted from the body when it is not needed.  Vitamin C may help with medical conditions such as acne, gum disease, bronchitis, stomach ulcers, dysentery, depression, dementia, fatigue, cancers, cataracts, joint diseases and, of course, the common cold.

Many years ago people who did not have access to fresh food such as sailors on long voyages suffered from a disease known as scurvy which came from a lack of vitamin C.

The human body does not make vitamin C so it needs to obtain it from outside sources such as a healthy diet.  Supplements are also available.

A lack of vitamin C may be indicated by frequent infections or colds, respiratory problems, wounds that heal poorly, bleeding gums, anemia, dry hair, swollen joints that are painful, nosebleeds and weakened tooth enamel.

People who smoke or those exposed to second hand smoke need more vitamin C.

Some good sources of vitamin C are:  berries, pineapple, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, citrus fruits and juices, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, green peppers, red peppers, broccoli, cabbage, turnip greens, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes and tomato juice.  More vitamin C is obtained from the raw fresh fruits and vegetables.  Also, a ripe piece of fruit will contain more vitamin than one that is unripe.  Vitamin C is higher in food at the time it is harvested.  Cooking or storing foods for a long period of time will decrease the amount of vitamin  C derived from that particular food.  Some other foods, including some cereals, indicate they are fortified with vitamin C.  Be sure to check the product label to see just how much vitamin C the product actually contains.

Since vitamin C is excreted from the body it is unusual for anyone to have serious side effects from too much vitamin C.  However, very high doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea or stomach problems.  It is recommended that you have no more than 2,000 mg daily of vitamin C.

Check with your health care professional to determine the amount of vitamin C that is right for you.