What is the use and function of VITAMIN C ?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid
and the antiscorbutic vitamin. Chemically, it is called L-xyloascorbic acid
and L-threo-hex-2-uronic acid g-lactone. The very
highest concentrations of vitamin C are found in the adrenal and pituitary gland.
High levels are also found in liver, leukocytes, brain, kidney and pancreas.
Most of the vitamin C is found in liver and skeletal muscle because of their
relative size to the rest of the body.
The best characterized function is the synthesis of collagen connective tissue
protein at the level of hydroxylation of prolyl and lysyl residues of procollagen.
Vitamin C also plays important roles in the synthesis of neurotransmitters,
steroid hormones, carnitine, conversion of cholesterol to bile acids, tyrosine
degradation and metal ion metabolism. This vitamin also may enhance iron bioavailability.
The role of ascorbic acid as a biological reducing agent may be linked to its
prevention of degenerative diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
This vitamin is important for tissue healing. Patients with peptic ulcers
will heal faster on vitamin C than those without extra vitamin C. as mentioned
previously, vitamin C is an anti-oxidant. It is also water soluble as B complex.
Severe ascorbic acid deficiency results in clinical scurvy which is characterized
by swollen, bleeding gums, loosening of the teeth, capillary hemorrhaging, including
bleeding into joints, tender and painful extremities, poor wound healing, weakness
and fatigue, and psychological disturbances.
Side effects of large doses include diarrhea and flatulence. Studies in Canada
show a decrease number of colon polyps in patients taking high doses of vitamin
C. such polyps are precursors for colon cancer. If we can decrease polyp formation
with vitamin C perhaps we can decrease colon cancer as well. The use of vitamin
C in this capacity should accompany a very low fat diet that is high in dietary
Smoking and alcohol consumption will increase the excretion of vitamin C.
Alcohol will actually deplete all of the water-soluble vitamins. Used by Pauling
and Cameron to decrease cancer growth and cause remissions in cancer patients
Major trials using high dose I.V. vitamin C fail to confirm any anti- cancer
effect of these vitamin in-patients with well established cancer. High dose
vitamin C may be a problem in patients with a tendency to kidney stone formation.
Check with your physician if this is your situation.
In patients receiving iron supplements to help treat iron deficiency, the
use of vitamin C taken at the same time, as the iron medicine will greatly enhance
the absorption of iron. Vitamin C will help with wound healing and healing of
burns. It improves the strength of the walls of the blood vessels and may help
decrease the easy bruising seen with some patients. Vitamin C in topical form
to prevent sunburn and to absorb the ultraviolet rays will soon be available.
Vitamin C may help people with low back pain and arthritis due to its anti-
oxidant effects. This and other vitamins need to be taken over long periods
The only established use of vitamin C is in the prevention and treatment of
scurvy. Studies investigating possible effects on wound healing, blood pressure,
colds and immune function have often employed other antioxidants in addition
to ascorbic acid and, in most cases, the results have been unremarkable, conflicting
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults is 60 mg/day in the U.S.,
but may range from 30-75 mg/day in other Western countries. Intakes of 75-95
mg/day are recommended for pregnant and lactating women. The RDA is 35 mg/day
in infants and 40 mg/day in children, ages 1-3. About 10 mg/day is required
to prevent scurvy. Increased intake of vitamin C is recommended for stress situations
such as trauma, infection, strenuous exercise, or elevated environmental temperatures.
The requirement in smokers may be 100 mg/day.
The best food sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes,
potatoes, green peppers and leafy green vegetables. Vitamin C is sensitive to
air, heat and water, so it can easily be destroyed by prolonged storage, overcooking
and processing of foods.
Toxicity: Megadoses of vitamin C of 1000-2000 mg have commonly been
associated with gastrointestinal disturbances (nausea, abdominal cramps and
diarrhea). In general, megadoses of vitamin C should be avoided in individuals
with a history of renal stones due to oxalate formation or hemochromatosis or
other diseases related to excessive iron accumulation. Excess vitamin C may
predispose premature infants to hemolytic anemia due to the fragility of their
red blood cells. In healthy individuals, it appears that megadoses of vitamin
C are well tolerated and not associated with any consistent adverse effects.
Work continues to develop and define a useful function test for vitamin C status,
such as activities of certain enzymes, white cell viability, or perhaps a test
related to the immune response. Investigations continue into developing a better
understanding of the role of vitamin C beyond preventing vitamin C deficiency.
Some examples are establishing optimal or pharmacologic uses of the vitamin
and discerning its role as an antioxidant/pro-oxidant in human biology. Clinical
studies also continue to define the role of vitamin C in cancer and in treating
other human diseases.
Gershoff, S.N. (1993) Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): new roles, new requirements?
Nutr. Rev. 51: 313-326
Diplock, A.T. (1995) Safety of antioxidant vitamins and b-carotene. Am. J.
Clin. Nutr. 62: 1510S-1516S.
Colloidal Minerals:Vitamin E anti-oxidant
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Read what the
US Senate knew in 1936 read Senate Document #264
use and function of
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