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Vitamin C: Benefits and misconceptions

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient found in foods and is used in our bodies to produces and maintain blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. (Photo: Envato Elements
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient found in foods and is used in our bodies to produces and maintain blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. (Photo: Envato Elements)
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Our bodies are complex pieces of bio-machinery and require a great deal of oversight. Without the influence of outside forces, our body is able to regulate and maintain itself, but only demands proper sustenance in return.اضافة اعلان

From the environment around us, we are able to acquire all the biological components to sustain ourselves.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a nutrient found in foods and is used in our bodies to produces and maintain blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones. Vitamin C also plays an important role in wound healing, absorption and storing of iron, and many more vital regulatory functions.



Sources of vitamin C
Many plant and animal species are able to produce vitamin C themselves, but humans lack the enzyme due to a mutation thought to have happened approximately 40 million years ago. As a result, we must get our source of vitamin C from foods such as:


Citrus Fruits

Berries

Potatoes

Tomatoes

Peppers

Cabbage

Brussels sprout

Broccoli

Spinach


Supplements for vitamin C can also be taken by persons with deficiency, and unlike some vitamins, toxicity is rare.

Although toxicity may not be a concern, increased vitamin C intake is associated with increased risk of kidney stones as well as a few common side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, indigestion, and flushed skin. Vitamin C deficiency may have serious ramifications on the body due to its role in many key regulatory processes.

Severe deficiency is known as scurvy, but is exceedingly rare, and is associated with anemia, infections, bleeding gums, poor wound healing, hemorrhaging of small blood vessels, muscle degradation and more.

Albeit a rare occurrence, according to Dr Fredrick Burkle, a member of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, outbreaks of scurvy within recent history have been seen primarily in refugee populations and can occur within three to four months upon arrival to refugee camps. The cause of scurvy outbreaks among refugees is due to the scarcity of food and relief aid foods commonly being inadequately fortified with vitamin C.

Due to the rarity of scurvy internationally speaking, incidences are not well reported and documented.



Health benefits and misconceptions
The health benefits of vitamin C are numerous, but also widely debated. Many conflicting studies have been conducted and consensus on the topic has been difficult achieve. Nevertheless, a trend of benefits can be seen centering around the fact that vitamin C is a naturally occurring antioxidant.

Antioxidants are compounds that help eliminate free radicals that are produced in our bodies due to food breakdown, smoking and radiation. Free radicals have been linked to many serious diseases, in particular certain cancers.

The most commonly associated use for vitamin C is for the treatment and prevention of common colds. Among the scientific community, the evidence for its benefits for treating colds is highly debated, with no clear explanation as to whether or not it plays a role in preventing or treating cold symptoms. Some studies suggest that continually, daily use of vitamin C may reduce the duration and symptoms of the common cold, but has no effect on preventing. As for treatment, the interpretation of data is widely disputed, but some evidence suggests greater benefits from high doses over lower doses.

Vitamin C may also play a role in cancer prevention and treatment. In terms of prevention, overwhelming evidence supports the link between high vitamin C intake and decreased risk of esophageal, stomach, breast, and colon cancers.

Although there are several purposed mechanisms for this, the widely agreed reasoning is attributed to its antioxidant properties, which prevent free radical damages and neutralizes some carcinogens (agents that cause cancer). There is also evidence of increased survival rates in cancer patients, with one study documenting an increased rate as high as 15 percent.

Along with the aforementioned health benefits, more include:

Enhanced availability and absorption of iron

Potential use in male infertility

Prevention of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in blood vessels)

Prevention and management of diabetes

Improving the immune system

Protection against heavy metal toxicity

Potential adjuvant (add-on) to conventional schizophrenia treatment

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