Ascorbic Acid, commonly referred to as Vitamin C, is one of the most effective and essentially required nutrients for the human body. Its benefits range from strengthening bones, skin and connective tissue to providing protection against cardiovascular diseases. It may not be the best curer of common cold, but it sure does a great job in preventing its more serious complications.
Including this Vitamin in the diet is essential-know that it is not a choice to do so; it is, rather, a need and vital requirement of a healthy mind and body. Lack of ascorbic acid is associated with conditions such as scurvy.
Read further to find out the health benefits of Vitamin C, how much is the daily dietary requirement and the consequences of a deficiency of the vitamin.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Building block of collagen: When talking about the health benefits of vitamin C, first in line comes its integral role as a building block of collagen. Collagen is one of the most important structural components of bones, blood vessels and skin.
Without enough collagen, the skin loses its turgidity and becomes loose, bone strength is greatly compromised and so are blood vessels.
Further, the role of vitamin C becomes more evident in case of fractures and injuries. In a situation like that, wound healing, reformation and bone remodeling is owed mainly to vitamin C. Without it, the process of wound healing and formation of scar tissue is delayed.
Antioxidant: When exposed to smoke, tobacco or harmful radiation, the body produces free radicals. These are also produced when the body breaks down food.
The same free radicals are one of the leading causes of aging, arthritis, increased risk of cancer and heart disease. To fight off these free radicals, the body requires antioxidants. Antioxidants are powerful substances that block the harmful damage cause by free radicals in the body. This role as an antioxidant is successfully played by vitamin C.
Vitamin C slows down the process of aging such as skin wrinkling along with fighting off the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Common cold Cure: For a long time now, Vitamin C has been wrongly considered as a cure for common cold. Vitamin C isn’t a quick remedy for your runny nose; it is more of a long-sought cure.
Research has shown that people who consume vitamin C-rich foods or supplements have slightly milder symptoms and complications.
Now that you are convinced (hopefully) about the benefits of Vitamin C, know where to look for them:
1. All citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit etc.)
3. All the berries (strawberries, cranberries, blueberries)
7. Greens (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts)
8. Leafy greens (spinach, turnip, cabbage etc.)
9. Red and green peppers
10. White and sweet potatoes
Remember that cooking or storing Vitamin C foods for a long time brings down their level of efficacy. It is best consume them raw and fresh for optimum effect.
What happens when you don’t get enough Vitamin C?
Not enough intake of the Vitamin can lead to its deficiency. This deficiency presents with signs and symptoms such as bleeding gums, easy bruising, dry and splitting hair, decreased immunity and consequently recurrent infections. Other symptoms include anemia (low hemoglobin), weakened tooth enamel, scaly and dry skin, and nose-bleeds and in some cases there may be noticeable weight gain due to decreased metabolism.
Severe deficiency of Vitamin C leads to scurvy. Scurvy in adults presents with symptoms such as generalized fatigue, easy bruising, swollen gums, feeling miserable, severe joint pain and shortness of breath.