What Is Ascorbic Acid?

Ascorbic acid occurs when hydrogen, carbon and oxygen molecules form a molecular bond. There are many forms of ascorbic acid; some types of ascorbic acid are used to develop film. One common type of ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, is also known as the essential human nutrient, vitamin C.

The Function of Vitamin C

Dietary ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, serves a number of important functions in the body. It helps your body produce the collagen that gives elasticity to your bones, skin, muscle tissue, blood vessels and cartilage. Vitamin C helps your body absorb and use iron, and it also helps your body produce the important hormones, dopamine and adrenaline.

Almost all of your body’s major organs and processes require vitamin C. Without vitamin C, wounds can’t heal, scars can’t form and cartilage, bones and teeth begin to deteriorate.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can protect your body from the effects of free radical damage. Vitamin C helps keep your immune system strong, can ease the symptoms of inflammatory conditions like arthritis, and may help to prevent many types of cancer as well as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

Most animals can synthesize their own ascorbic acid within their bodies, but humans don’t have this capability. Therefore, humans need to eat an adequate amount of vitamin C each day.

Symptoms and Causes of Vitamin C Deficiency

Low levels of dietary ascorbic acid lead to the condition formerly known as scurvy. Symptoms include anemia, easy bruising, loose teeth and delayed healing of wounds. Nosebleeds, swollen joints, decreased immunity, and bleeding and inflammation of the gums are further symptoms of ascorbic acid deficiency.

Those who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables shouldn’t worry about vitamin C deficiency. Modern food production, transport and storage technologys ensure that nearly everyone has access to good dietary sources of vitamin C.

As a result, vitamin C deficiency is rare. Poor diet is the primary cause of vitamin C deficiency. Older adults are at the highest risk for vitamin C deficiency, since they’re most likely to suffer from poor nutrition.

Vitamin C Toxicity

Your body can’t store vitamin C, so it’s rare to suffer from vitamin C toxicity. Taking high daily doses of this vitamin isn’t likely to cause you any lasting damage. If you consume more than 2000 mg of vitamin C per day, you could experience diarrhea and an upset stomach.

Getting Enough Vitamin C in Your Diet

Dietary ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is plentiful in a number of fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits, like oranges, are a popular source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is present in all fruits and vegetables, but the best sources include citrus fruits, green peppers, strawberries, broccoli, green leafy vegetables like mustard and turnip greens, cantaloupe, tomatoes and potatoes. Raspberries, cranberries, blueberries, red peppers, pineapples, papayas, watermelon and winter squash are also good dietary sources of vitamin C.

The use of high dose vitamin C supplements for cold relief is controversial, though evidence suggests that vitamin C combined with zinc may reduce the duration of the common cold.

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