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Vitamin C: Functions, Sources, and Recommended Intake

Table of Contents

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in maintaining good health. In this article, we will dive into the importance of Vitamin C, its sources, functions, and recommended daily intake. We will also explore the risks of Vitamin C deficiency and how to avoid them.

What is Vitamin C and its Importance?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be produced by the body, which means it must be obtained through food or supplements. It has several important functions in the body, including aiding in the growth, development, and repair of tissues, and acting as an antioxidant to protect the body against damage from free radicals.

Brief History of Vitamin C Discovery

In 1747, James Lind, a British physician, conducted one of the first recorded clinical trials by treating sailors with scurvy, a disease caused by Vitamin C deficiency. Later, in 1932, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering the chemical structure of Vitamin C.

Sources of Vitamin C

The best sources of Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, guava, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin C can also be found in dietary supplements.

Functions of Vitamin C in the Body

Vitamin C has numerous functions in the body. It is necessary for the growth, development, and repair of all body tissues, including bones, skin, and blood vessels. It also plays a vital role in wound healing and maintaining healthy teeth and gums.

Additionally, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body against damage from harmful molecules known as free radicals. It helps regenerate other antioxidants in the body, such as Vitamin E, and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.

Risks Due to Deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy, a disease characterized by weakness, fatigue, and swollen, bleeding gums. Prolonged deficiency can also result in anemia, a weakened immune system, and slow wound healing.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of vitamin C varies depending on age, gender, and other factors. However, the general recommended daily intake for adults is around 75-90 mg per day for women and 90 mg per day for men.

During pregnancy and breastfeeding, the recommended intake increases to around 85-120 mg per day, depending on the age of the mother. Smokers may also require additional vitamin C intake, as smoking can deplete vitamin C levels in the body

Recap and Conclusion

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has numerous functions in the body, including aiding in growth, development, and repair of tissues and acting as an antioxidant. The best sources of Vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, and the recommended daily intake is 65 to 90 milligrams for most adults. Vitamin C deficiency can lead to serious health problems, including scurvy and weakened immune system. Ensuring adequate Vitamin C intake is crucial to maintain good health.

William H. McDaniel, MD

Dr. Robert H. Shmerling is the former clinical chief of the division of rheumatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC), and is a current member of the corresponding faculty in medicine at Harvard Medical School.

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