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For some reason or other people tend to think that “all” Vitamin C does is help the body get over colds or cope with the flu, and that is actually true – but certainly not “all” it does: vitamin C (also called Ascorbic acid) is one of the most essential vitamins to health maintenance and participates in no less than 300 processes in the human body.
The advantages of Vitamin C
Improves the immune system – vitamin C helps the proper function of the immune system, encourages and reinforces its activity and thus contributes to the reduction of infections and inflammations, and also helps in shortening the recuperation period after a viral or bacterial disease such as the flu or a cold.
Reinforcing the body – vitamin C helps the body to create antibodies, contributes to the activity of white blood cells and to a more effective absorption of iron, calcium and zinc. In addition, since vitamin C consumption reduces the histamine level (compounds which cause the expansion of the blood vessels and the contraction of muscles and which are released into the body during an allergic reaction), it can also alleviate the intensity of allergy attacks.
Antioxidant - Vitamin C belongs to the group of substances which are powerful antioxidants. Hence, one of its many functions in the human body is to help neutralize free radicals. These are, among other things, compounds which can develop cancerous cells. Vitamin C is particularly important for preventing the harmful effects of smoking.
Protecting the blood vessels – a severe vitamin C deficiency is likely to cause scurvy – a disease which at first damages the capillaries, making the gums bleed. A consistent intake of the correct amount of vitamin C assists in caring for the capillaries and thus prevents the development of bleeding from the mouth and the skin.
Protecting the eyes – vitamin C takes part in processes preventing the development of cataracts – a condition which impairs the vision and may lead to blindness.
Protecting the heart – vitamin C plays an essential role in reducing the risk of develop heart disease, and in the production of the amino acid important to the Carnitine which is essential to heart health and to the metabolism of fatty acids and energy in the muscle.
Protecting the skin – vitamin C participates in the production of the cologne required, among other things, for building the connective tissues, healing sores and maintaining the appearance of healthy and natural skin.
It is important to know: the level of vitamin C in the body is not cumulative, rather constantly decreases. In order to help in maintaining the body’s health, vitamin C must be consumed on a regular basis through food sources such as fruit and vegetables, or with high quality dietary supplements which contain the optimal dosage.
Symptoms which may indicate a vitamin C deficiency
Who should take vitamin C?
Vitamin C is important and recommended for all groups in the population, but is especially essential to four of them:
Vitamin C for children – helps reinforce the immune system, participates in processes essential both for the proper development of the body and for maintaining its health.
Vitamin C for pregnant women – adhering to the recommended daily dosage of vitamin C for pregnant women (usually 200 mg to a maximum of 500 mg), reinforces the mother’s immune system thus helping to reduce the risk of viral morbidity during pregnancy.
In addition, it reduces the risk of characteristic infections in the genitourinary system and the need to use antibiotics. The level of the vitamin in the mother’s body decreases the more the pregnancy advances since the fetus also depletes the vitamin stores for its proper growth and development and therefore, external supplementation is recommended. Findings are inconclusive regarding the involvement of vitamin C in the prevention of preeclampsia, low birth weight and premature birth.
Vitamin C for smokers – as part of the broad array of harmful effects it has on the human body, smoking also damages the blood vessels and the antioxidants and increases the risk of hypertension (high blood pressure is also called the silent killer). Since the consumption of tobacco significantly reduces the level of vitamin C in the body, smokers should be even more vigilant than nonsmokers in the regular intake of vitamin C.
Vitamin C for people taking medicines - certain medicines reduce the effect vitamin C has on the body and compromise its ability to participate in essential processes. Those taking medicines in a permanent fashion should be taking vitamin C at the same time in order to bring it back to its proper level in the body.
Vitamin C – Side effects
Adverse side effects associated with taking vitamin C are rare and usually only appear when taking huge quantities. The most common side effect is Diarrhea and very rarely, skin irritation.