“Do you have a cold? Take a good dose of vitamin C!” How many times have you heard this phrase? Vitamin C enjoys a superstar status among the nutrients we consume every day. Let’s find out together what it is for and what the benefits of vitamin C are.
What is Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, belongs to the group of so-called water-soluble vitamins, namely those that cannot be accumulated in the body, but must be regularly taken through the diet. In addition to melting in water, vitamin C is sensitive to high temperatures, so vitamin C benefits are lost in case of cooking in water.
What does Vitamin C do?
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, participates in many metabolic reactions and biosynthesis of amino acids, hormones and collagen. Is vitamin C good for skin? Yes, thanks to its strong antioxidant powers, vitamin C helps the body to protect our skin from oxidative stress of the environment supporting the functions of the epithelial barrier against pathogens, in fact it is a help in healing wounds. Moreover, other vitamin c benefits are those to facilitate the formation of collagen, promote healthy teeth and gums and raise the barriers of the immune system.
Vitamin C also comes into play for the harmonious development of the organism and for the repair of tissues, in fact it is essential to stimulate the healing of wounds.
At the cerebral level, vitamin C is responsible for the creation of the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine, which helps to control the uses of substances contained in the blood, in particular glucose.
Foods with Vitamin C
Vitamin C is mainly contained in fresh foods: in some types of fruit and vegetables such as oranges, strawberries, mandarins, kiwis, lemons, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and peppers. It is a vitamin particularly sensitive to light, air and heat, which is therefore easily deteriorated during storage and cooking treatments. To fully enjoy the vitamin C benefits, these foods must be stored no more than 3-4 days and consumed raw.
Here is a list of foods that contain more vitamin C per 100 g:
-hot pepper 229 mg
-blackcurrant 200 mg
-peppers 151 mg
-kiwifruit 85 mg
-brussels sprouts 81 mg
-cauliflower 59 mg
-strawberries 54 mg
-spinach 54 mg
-oranges and lemons 50 mg
The amount of vitamin C you need each day depends on your age. According to the National Institutes of Health, the average daily recommended amounts for men are 90 mg and for women 75 mg (when pregnant 85 mg).
Vitamin C deficiency
The lack of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, causes scurvy, a disease that in the past was widespread among sailors who lived on ships and did not eat fresh food for months on end. The symptoms of scurvy are a condition of apathy, anaemia and lack of appetite followed by other signs such as bleeding of the gums, falling teeth, muscle pain and subcutaneous bleeding.
Excess of vitamin C
Excessive intake of vitamin C, or ascorbic acid – which can be caused by an unbalanced diet or by an abuse of supplements – can cause kidney problems, with the formation of stones, or an overdose of iron since vitamin C promotes its absorption.
Excess vitamin C can lead to symptoms such as headaches, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhoea, gastritis and abdominal cramps, but also weakness, dizziness and sudden flushes of heat.