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Protective Role of Vitamin C and Ascorbic Acid
- Vitamin C is a dietary supplement that is a water soluble vitamin yet we cannot make it in our bodies
- A good source of vitamin C is ripe fruit
- Cardiovascular diseases, cataracts and joint diseases can be the result of a vitamin C deficiency
- Antioxidant enzymes help neutralize free radicals which are responsible for the aging process
Vitamin C may be the best known of all nutrients that are marketed as dietary supplements. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is quickly excreted from the body when it is not required. It is critical to human beings and animals and almost all mammals can produce vitamin C within their own cells. However, humans are among a group of mammals that are not able to make vitamin C within their own bodies.
The requirement for vitamin C varies greatly between individuals. It is quite normal for an individual to need 10 times the amount of vitamin C required by another person. Also, an individual’s state of health and age can have a dramatic effect on their need for vitamin C. To complicate matters even further, the amount of vitamin C contained within food types can vary as much as the human requirement. Generally, unripe fruits and vegetables are much lower in vitamin C than ripe fruit and vegetables. However, once the food is ripe, the vitamin C content reduces as the food ages. For example, vitamin C content declines as the length of time after harvest gets longer.
The role of vitamin C within the body is primarily a protective one. Vitamin C was known for its health benefits as early as the 1700s, when it was named the “antiscorbutic factor,” as it helped to prevent scurvy, prevalent among sailors who went on long voyages and were deprived of fresh fruit and vegetables as stores ran out. The British Royal Navy recognized that limes were a good source of vitamin C, which led to their sailors being given the nickname “limeys.”
The protective role of vitamin C is more extensive than protecting gums and skin in the case of scurvy. Cancers, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts and joint diseases can all be the result of a vitamin C deficiency. The likelihood of preventing these conditions is also increased by taking vitamin C. Vitamin C carries out its protective role largely by functioning as an antioxidant. Antioxidants scavenge damaging particles in the body known as free radicals. Free radicals are known to damage cell proteins and genetic material and leave the cell vulnerable to cancer. Free radicals are also thought to be partly responsible for the aging process as well as a variety of illnesses and conditions. Antioxidant enzymes can help neutralize free radicals, and in doing so may limit or stop some of the damage they cause. Molecules that contain fat, lipoprotein molecules that transport fat around the body, for example, are especially dependent on the protection provided by vitamin C.
Ascorbyl palmitate is an ester formed from palmitic acid and ascorbic acid. It forms a fat-soluble version of vitamin C. As well as being used as a source of vitamin C, ascorbyl palmitate it is also used as a food additive as it is known for its antioxidant properties.
Vitamin C is very sensitive to air, temperature and water. Cooking, freezing, canning and processing can all have a significant effect on the depletion of vitamin C content. Eating raw and fresh fruit and vegetables is the best way to optimize the intake of vitamin C.
Good sources of vitamin C include: broccoli, parsley, bell pepper, oranges, strawberries, lemons, cauliflower, papaya, kale, Brussels sprouts and mustard greens.
The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.
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