Vitamin C is a water-soluble essential nutrient necessary for daily bodily functions. Natural sources of vitamin C include lemons, oranges, bell peppers, kale, broccoli, papaya, strawberries and kiwi.
Function and Sources of Vitamin C
Also known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate, it acts as an antioxidant that aids in the protection of cells against free radicals. Free radicals are atoms with an unpaired number of electrons which are formed when oxygen reacts with certain molecules.
Once formed, these highly reactive radicals form a domino chain reaction that may cause damage when they react with vital cellular components such as the human DNA or cell membranes. This causes damage and inhibits the functionality of the cells once this occurs. Vitamin C, as an antioxidant, can interact safely with these free radicals and terminate the damaging domino chain reaction before it causes significant molecular damage to the body.
There are a lot of antioxidants that you can take in. One of the most vital antioxidants specifically needed not only to fight off free radicals but also to allow other antioxidants to function is Vitamin C. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron and other nutrients from vegetables and helps the immune system fight off diseases.
Aids in Collagen Production and Metabolism
The body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein needed to bind tissues together and acts as the intercellular base which gives structure to muscles, vascular tissues, bones, and ligaments. Vitamin C also plays a role in the recovery of wounds, infections, and diseases.
It can also act as an inhibitor or histamine, which is a compound released during allergic reactions. It neutralizes toxins caused by pollution and consumption of nitrite-rich food preventing the formation of potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines in the stomach. Vitamin C is necessary for healthy teeth and gums and prevents it from hemorrhage and bleeding. It is needed for the metabolism of bile acids which are linked to the levels of blood cholesterol and gallstones. It is also responsible for several important syntheses of peptides, carnitine, and neurotransmitters.
Unlike the antioxidants vitamin E and A, which are both oil-soluble and can be stored in the body, vitamin C is water soluble and can easily be eliminated by the body. Vitamin C also cannot be made by the body so it is imperative to include natural vitamin C-rich foods in our diet as well as supplements that compensate for the daily use of it. Persistent lack of vitamin C due to poor diet and lifestyle can potentially lead to a condition called scurvy.
Effects of Vitamin C Deficiency
Susceptible to Infections
Since one of the roles of vitamin C is to aid the body fight off infections and strengthen the immune system, lack thereof can cause a negative impact on the general healing of diseases, wounds, and infections. The immune system can be at risk of getting weak without vitamin C. People who suffer cancer and immune disorders such as lupus, scleroderma, hemolytic anemia, and vasculitis need to take sufficient and sometimes even higher amounts of vitamin C to strengthen their immune system.
Iron Deficiency Anemia
Anemia is another sign of possible vitamin C deficiency. Vitamin C is essential for iron absorption, which is why despite taking a lot of iron in the body, it might have little effect if one does not have sufficient amount of ascorbic acid that will support the absorption of iron.
Poor Dental Condition
A healthy dose of vitamin C contributes to the wellness of gums and teeth. A deficiency can cause its deterioration. Periodontal problems such as bleeding gums, loose teeth, or gingivitis can be symptoms of ascorbic acid deficiency that have been neglected at a hazardous level. This symptom is a one of the obvious manifestations of scurvy that is quite a rare but frightening condition.
Erratic Mood Changes
Short tempers, irritability and generally having rapid mood changes can be an early surfacing sign or scurvy. It crucial to note this since mood changes affect the way we lead our lives. The quality of our relationships, friendship, work, overall health and stress avoidance can be attributed to how stable our mood can be. Adding more vitamin C into one’s diet before seeking pharmaceutical intervention can potentially save one’s overall mood in the long run.
Fatigue and Depression
Early on, anyone with a vitamin C deficiency will tend to get tired easily and experience reduced energy. Since chronic fatigue is a symptom of several illnesses, it can be tricky to pinpoint scurvy as the main condition based on this symptom. Since ascorbic acid also aids in the absorption of nutrients, if the body cannot easily absorb nutrients, the nutrients needed for metabolism will not be able to strengthen the body. Thus, it can lead to fatigue, chronic low energy, and depression.
A lot of skincare products incorporate vitamin C in their ingredients. However, it is also necessary not only to apply it to the skin but to take it in for optimum benefits. Vitamin C maintains the skin’s elasticity by stimulating the production of collagen and slowing down the rate of pairing and propagation of free radicals. When the skin has enough collagen, it manifests in slowing down the aging process by reducing the development of wrinkles, dryness, and fine lines.
Brittle Hair and Dry Scalp
A change in hair condition can also signal that the body is not getting enough of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin C is highly essential in strengthening and helping the hair grow. Vitamin C helps build collagen, which is extremely important for hair growth. It is also highly necessary in absorbing iron which keeps hair strong and healthy. Scalp dryness can also be a result of low vitamin C as the body nutrients may not be effectively absorbed without it.
Chronic Pain and Bruising
Joint and muscle aches in the limbs can be a symptom of a vitamin deficiency. Vitamin C deficiency may also cause individuals to bruise easily. Chronic pain and excessive bruising are signs that the body’s chemistry and essential nutrients need to be improved and given attention.
Lifestyle and nutrition can cause the deficiency of this essential nutrient. It is always advisable to check our diets and habits to know if one of the things we do or eat are causing our bodies harm. Smoking, excessive stress, poor nutrition can lead us to vitamin C deficiency and sometimes eliminate several other essential nutrients. It is beneficial to know the benefits as well as detrimental effects that are brought about by not having enough of it. After all, it is the body’s well-being that will come as a result of making sure we have enough nutrients.
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