Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining good health. It is required for many biological processes in the body, including collagen synthesis, immune system function, and wound healing.
Function of Vitamin C
- Collagen Synthesis: Vitamin C plays a crucial role in the synthesis of collagen, which is a protein that makes up the structural framework of many tissues in the body, including skin, tendons, and bones.
- Immune System Function: Vitamin C is important for immune system function, as it helps to stimulate the production and function of white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infections and diseases.
- Antioxidant Activity: Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which means that it helps to protect the body against damage caused by free radicals, which can contribute to the development of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- Wound Healing: Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of connective tissue and blood vessels, which are essential for wound healing.
- Iron Absorption: Vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron from plant-based foods, which is important for people who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Sources of Vitamin C
- Fruits and Vegetables: Vitamin C is found in high amounts in many fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruits), kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, tomatoes, bell peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
- Supplements: Vitamin C supplements are available in various forms, including tablets, capsules, and powders.
- Fortified Foods: Some foods, such as breakfast cereals, are fortified with vitamin C to help people meet their daily needs.
It’s worth noting that vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat and light, so it’s important to consume fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked to preserve their vitamin C content. The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 75-90 mg for women and 90 mg for men. However, some studies suggest that higher intakes of vitamin C may provide additional health benefits. As with any nutrient, it’s important to obtain vitamin C from food sources whenever possible.