What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C or L-ascorbate is an essential nutrient and its presence is required for a range of essential metabolic reactions in all animals and plants. It is made internally by almost all organisms, humans being the exception. Humans must obtain vitamin C through diet (a process often compromised by a modern unnatural diet). Large amounts of vitamin C are used by the body during healing processes. In these cases extra vitamin C may be needed.
The pharmacophore of vitamin C is the ascorbate ion. In living organisms, ascorbate is an antioxidant, since it protects the body against oxidative stress, and is a cofactor in several vital enzymatic reactions. It is a water-soluble vitamin needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body.
Why do we need it?
1. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for the healing of wounds, and for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
2. Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Vitamin E and beta-carotene are two other well known antioxidants. Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E.
Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, which are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect indispensable molecules in the body, such as proteins, lipids (fats), carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants. The build up of these by-products over time is largely responsible for the aging process and can contribute to the development of various health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and a host of inflammatory conditions like arthritis.
3. Vitamin C helps to facilitate the absorption of iron and calcium, and it is essential for the utilization of folacin.
4. Vitamin C is important and necessary for the synthesis of the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine and serotonin. It catalyzes the conversion of dopamine to norepinephrine and the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin.
(The above are the functions of Vitamin C, but the real reason why we need to aquire Vitamin C daily is the human defect caused by mutation 55 to 65 million years ago. Humans stopped making their own Vitamin C, but survived as a species due to its intelligents and knowledge to find ascorbate acid in food. More about this in the soon-to-be-released e-book on this site. )
What happens without it?
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to dry and splitting hair; gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and bleeding gums; rough, dry, scaly skin; decreased wound-healing rate, easy bruising; nosebleeds; weakened enamel of the teeth; swollen and painful joints; anaemia; decreased ability to ward off infection; and, possibly, weight gain because of slowed metabolic rate and energy expenditure.
A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy. It usually affects people that are alcoholics, people who consume a diet devoid of fruits and vegetables, elderly individuals on a limited diet, severely ill individuals under chronic stress, and infants fed exclusively cow's milk. Smoking acts as an antagonist to vitamin C. Less vitamin C is available in smokers for utilization and storage, and smokers need twice the amount of vitamin C as the non-smoker to show a comparable blood level.
Psychiatric symptoms of vitamin C deficiency may include depression, hysteria, and hypochondriacal symptoms.