Image: Unsplash – Lauren Mancke
[Raymond Adekolu | Contributing Writer]
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin (i.e. it dissolves in water), that plays an essential role in normal growth and development.
What is it used for?
Vitamin C is required to aid a lot of different functions in the body such as: growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body (e.g. skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels), the production of scar tissue (which allows wounds to heal), improving absorption of iron, and many more.
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that block some of the damage created by free radicals. Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or through exposure to tobacco smoke or radiation. The build-up of free radicals over time is largely responsible for the aging process and it can play a role in causing cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.
Why do you need to consume vitamin C?
The body cannot make vitamin C on its own and it does not store vitamin C, so it is essential that you consume your recommended daily allowance.
What happens if you don’t consume enough vitamin C?
Vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries like the UK, however, the following groups are at a higher risk of vitamin C deficiency:
- People who may not have a healthy, balanced diet.
- People with a medical condition that affects the body’s ability to absorb and digest food (such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.)
- People who smoke. Smoking affects the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C from foods, and vitamin C is used up by the body more quickly when you smoke.
There are many symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, such as tiredness and weakness, muscle and joint pains, easy bruising, spots that look like tiny, red-blue bruises on your skin, dry skin, and nosebleeds.
Vitamin C deficiency can be treated by simply replacing the vitamin C that is lacking in your diet. This can be done by consuming vitamin C-rich foods, and taking vitamin C supplements.
Where can you get vitamin C?
The main sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables, with the highest amount of vitamin C present in cantaloupes, citrus fruits and juices, kiwi, mangoes, and pineapples. Vegetables with the highest amount of vitamin C include broccoli, green and red peppers, leafy greens, potatoes and tomatoes. The options are endless, and you can eat whichever takes your liking.