Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, ascorbic being Latin for "without scurvy". As an historical anecdote, 18th century British sailors were plagued with scurvy until they added vitamin C-rich lime to their shipboard diets (and were henceforth called limeys).

Vitamin C is one of the most unstable vitamins, easily destroyed by heat, light and air. It is best absorbed in conjunction with iron.

Natural Food Sources
Avocado, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, grapefruit, green pepper, guava, kale, lemon, lime, mango, melon, orange, papaya, pineapple, potato, rose hip, spinach, strawberry, tomato, watercress.

Main Functions
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that promotes the growth and maintenance of bones, teeth, skin and red blood cells. It aids in the repair of tissues and the formation of collagen, plus it helps the body resist stress and infection. It increases the absorption of iron and calcium. Vitamin C is believed to prevent cardiovascular disease, lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, fight allergies and asthma, aid symptoms of diabetes, prevent gallstones, prevent cancer, improve male fertility, prevent osteoporosis, and slow down the progress of Parkinson's disease.

Deficiency Symptoms
Scurvy, a disease which causes bleeding under the skin, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, dry skin, hair loss and muscle weakness, is rare these days, but poor diet, excessive smoking and drinking and some medications can deplete one's stores of vitamin C.

Toxicity Symptoms
Any excessive doses of vitamin C are excreted by the body, so it is unlikely that one would develop a toxic reaction. However, prolonged intake of over 1000 mg daily might lead to kidney stones, diarrhea, low blood sugar and a depletion of copper and selenium stores.

Recommended Daily Allowance
Men: 90 mg
Women: 75 mg (many experts believe this should be more like 500 mg)

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