Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for many bodily functions. The deficiency of this vitamin leads to Scurvy, widespread connective tissue weakness, and fragility in the capillaries. Let’s further explore the importance of Vitamin C, its sources and risk factors of a deficiency.

The Importance of Vitamin C

  1. Collagen Synthesis

Vitamin C is an important precursor for the production and maintenance of Collagen, the most abundant protein in the human body. Collagen is found in the skin, ligaments, tendon, cartilage, bone, blood vessel, intestine and the disc between spinal vertebrae.

Vitamin C boosts collagen naturally and protects skin from premature damage, preventing wrinkles. Increased Vitamin C increases the synthesis of Type 1 Collagen found primarily in the body and Type 4 Collagen which has important filtration characteristics in the kidney, the blood-brain barrier, and the arterial lining.

  1. Synthesis of Basement Membrane

The basement membrane is a thin, sticky layer that supports epithelial cell layers or tissues that layer the surface and cavities through the body. It acts as a restrictive barrier to prevent cancer cells from passing to the deeper tissues.

Vitamin C aids to maintain the gel-like structure of this membrane and accelerates the deposition of proteins in the skin layers as well.

  1. Metabolism

Vitamin C is an essential cofactor for the synthesis of Carnitine, an amino acid that is necessary to transport and break down fatty acid. This process generates cellular energy and is an important factor in the production of the ATP.

  1. Neurotransmitter Synthesis

Vitamin C is directly involved in the production of certain neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are electrical signals between nerves that govern important activities like the brain’s ability to think, remember, etc.

  1. Promotes Absorption of Calcium to the Bones

Vitamin C promotes the assimilation of calcium into the bone and maintains high bone density. It prevents leaching of calcium out of the bones and fights oxidative stress. It stimulates the formation and development of cells that incorporate calcium into the bone tissues.

  1. Immune System Function and Maintenance

Lastly, Vitamin C plays a critical role in the immune system by stimulating the production of white blood cells, proliferating lymphocytes, and antibodies against pathogens and provides immune response aptly.

  1. Powerful Antioxidant

Vitamin C are potent antioxidants that protect the body against cellular damage and the destruction of free radicals. It helps to neutralize free radicals by donating one of their electrons and then finally destroying the toxic compound.

Sources of Vitamin C

Some important sources of Vitamin C are as follows. Since overheating or overcooking can deplete Vitamin C content in the food, it’s important to obtain it from the right sources in the right way:

  • Indian gooseberry or Amla
  • Citrus fruits such as limes, oranges, lemon, tomatoes
  • Papaya
  • Guava
  • Red Peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Kiwifruit
  • Cantaloupes
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Fortified cereals and Juices

Vitamin C Deficiency – Risk Factors

The most common risk factors for deficiency are smoking, poor diet, alcohol, anorexia, mental illness, and dialysis. Here are some subtle signs to watch out for to know if you are deficient in Vitamin C:

  • Rough Bumpy Skin because of low collagen
  • Bright Red Hair Follicles
  • Dry damaged skin
  • Easy bruising because of weak capillaries
  • Wounds take a long time to heal
  • Gout or painful or swollen joint
  • Weak bones
  • Bleeding Gums and Tooth loss
  • Poor Immunity
  • Anemia or iron deficiency due to reduced absorption of Iron in the body
  • Fatigue
  • Poor Mood
  • Chronic Inflammation and Oxidative Stress

Side-Effects of Consuming Too Much Vitamin C

Usually, excess Vitamin C is secreted out of the urine. It can be obtained easily from natural food sources and also supplemented if needed. In some people, high doses of Vitamin C have caused side-effects such as diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, gastritis, headache, flushing, the formation of kidney stones. People with chronic liver or kidney conditions, gout, or a history of calcium-oxalate kidney stones should take no more than 1,000 mg a day.

Vitamin C plays a pivotal role in several processes of the body. The various function of Vitamin C includes its antioxidant role, collagen synthesis, bone formation, protecting ligaments and tendons. Without a sufficient amount of Vitamin C in your body, functions cannot be performed optimally and lead to weakness in the body.