Vitamin C: most researched nutrientPublished 11:22am Friday, June 22, 2012
If you had to pick the most popular, most researched nutrient in history, it would probably have to be vitamin C, but is it really good for us? Is it safe, and do we need to take mega doses?
Vitamin C was first isolated by Hungarian biochemist Dr. Albert Szent-Gyori in 1928. Vitamin C’s chemical name, “ascorbic acid” is derived from the Latin name for scurvy, “scorbutus,” a condition brought about by a vitamin C deficiency.
Scurvy is an illness whose symptoms include formation of white spots on the skin, spongy gums and bleeding of the mucous membranes. This disease was once common among sailors who were out to sea for long periods of time, and couldn’t keep perishable foods like citrus fruits.
So what can vitamin C do for us? First, it’s important for the formation of collagen. Collagen is sort of the glue that holds our body’s cells together. In fact if you’re ever wounded, vitamin C instantly goes to work to help produce collagen to help with healing. That includes your bones too.
Your body’s connective tissues like tendons and ligaments are also made up of collagen. Vitamin C is crucial in keeping blood vessels strong. Remember, you can only get good from your exercise, diet, medication and supplements to the exact degree of your blood vessel health, because it all goes via the blood stream.
In fact one of the first signs of vitamin C deficiency is bleeding gums and broken capillaries, then rough, brown scaly skin, slow wound healing, loosened teeth and possible bone fractures.
Vitamin C helps protect vitamins A and E, and fatty acids from oxidation (breaking down). Vitamin C helps boost our immune system, which is why some folks take it at the first sign of a cold.
Daily does of vitamin C have been shown to reduce the occurrence of cataract, hay fever and asthma.
Its believed vitamin C is helpful in reducing risk for cancer. Vitamin C is also used as a preservative that can be used in many foods. Most animals actually produce their own vitamin C, but primates, humans, fish and guinea pigs don’t.
It once baffled scientists that Eskimos, who hardly ever ate fruits and vegetables, didn’t develop scurvy. Turns out, there was actually enough vitamin C in the meat they ate to prevent the disease. Here’s the thing though, they eat their meat raw. You see, heat destroys vitamins C.
So, what foods contain vitamin C, and how much should we take? Foods rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit), carrots, broccoli, bananas, parsley, potatoes, red and green peppers, kiwis and papayas. Kiwis and papayas contain the most.