Why Is Vitamin C Important to Good Health
Vitamin C is important to all animals and is vital for good health.
By: Holly Nelson
Why is Vitamin C important?
Vitamin C is important to all animals, including humans, because it is vital to the production of collagen. Vitamin C is also important because it helps protect the fat-soluble vitamins A and E as well as fatty acids from oxidation. Vitamin C prevents and cures the disease scurvy, and can be beneficial in the treatment of iron deficiency anemia.
Most people only have a vague idea what collagen is, and why it is so important. Collagen is the most ubiquitous substance in the body because it is the most abundant of the fibers contained in connective tissue. Connective tissue gives our body form and supports our organs. To give you an idea of how important collagen is, here is a list of the five types of collagen, and where they are used in the body.
* Type 1 - Connective tissue of skin, bone, teeth, tendons, ligaments, fascia, organ capsules
* Type 2 - Cartilage
* Type 3 - Connective tissue of our organs (liver, spleen, kidneys, etc.)
* Type 4, 5 - The separating layer between epithelial and endothelial cells as well as between skeletal or smooth muscle cells (basal lamina), kidney glomeruli, lens capsule, and Schwann and glial cells of the nervous system.
As you can see, collagen is everywhere in the body, and vitamin C plays a role in the formation of collagen. So, how is vitamin C involved in collagen synthesis?
When collagen is produced, there is a complex series of events, some occurring inside of the cell, and some outside of the cell. Vitamin C is active inside of the cell, where it hydroxylates (adds hydrogen and oxygen) to two amino acids: proline and lysine. This helps form a precursor molecule called procollagen that is later packaged and modified into collagen outside of the cell. Without vitamin C, collagen formation is disrupted, causing a wide variety of problems throughout the body.
What happens if you don't get enough vitamin C?
A deficiency of vitamin C causes the disease Scurvy. Scurvy is rarely seen today except in alcoholics who receive their entire calorie intake from alcohol. Scurvy causes bleeding and inflamed gums, loose teeth, poor wound healing (purplish spots called petechiae), easy bruising, bumps of coiled hair on the arms and legs, pain in the joints, muscle wasting, and many other problems.
It was a Scottish physician named James Lind back in 1753 that first advocated fresh vegetables and ripe fruits to prevent Scurvy. The British Navy adopted his advice some forty years later. The navy men were ever after nicknamed "Limeys" because they took limejuice on long sea voyages to ward off Scurvy.
What are good sources of vitamin C?
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, and grapefruit, and vegetables including tomatoes, green pepper, potatoes and many others. Vitamin C is easily damaged during the food preparation stage, such as during chopping, exposure to air, cooking, boiling, and being submerged in water. The amount of Vitamin C is high enough in most foods that the quantity that remains after processing is usually more than enough for a daily supply.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C is 60 to 90 milligrams per day. Men should consume more vitamin C than women and individuals who smoke cigarettes are encouraged to consume 35 more mg of vitamin C than average adults. This is due to the fact that smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body and is a catalyst for biological processes which damage cells. As little as 5-7 mg a day will prevent scurvy, and the average American gets about 72 mg a day.
It is interesting to note that Vitamin C is used as an inexpensive preservative in many processed foods, making deficiencies even more rare.
What about taking vitamin C supplements?
One way an individual can up their intake of vitamin C is through the consumption of vitamin C supplements. A report issued by the Food and Nutrition Board in 2000 sets the upper intake level for vitamin C at 2,000 mg a day for adults. This dosage recommendation includes vitamin C obtained from both the the consumption of food and supplements containing vitamin C.
For more information finding a good Vitamin C supplement visit http://www.tntnutritioncenter.com.