Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin that is present abundantly in fruits and vegetables. It is a powerful antioxidant and plays an important role in maintaining healthy connective tissue and immune system.
This vitamin has endless benefits affecting the entire human body. To begin with, it greatly influences our cardiovascular health. It keeps arteries flexible, lowers blood pressure and reduces risk of heart disease & stroke. It is required for the synthesis of collagen, which is an essential component of connective tissue. This helps in keeping gums healthy and early wound repair. Its antioxidant properties help in fighting off free radicals generated in the body, reducing the risk of cancer and arthritis. It boosts our immune system and helps in fighting cold and allergies. It enhances our metabolism and reduces fatigue. It also helps in iron from our diet. Apart from these, it also contributes in delaying aging process, curing cataract, asthma and diabetes.
The human system lacks the mechanism to produce this vital nutrient, hence it needs to be supplemented through dietary intake. Sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, tomato, broccoli, sweet potato, papaya, strawberries and bell peppers. It is also available in the form of supplements which include ascorbic acid tablets, drops, crystals and powder form. The recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C in adults is 40 mg/ day. It we eat a balanced diet on a regular basis, the deficiency of this vitamin is highly unlikely.
Symptoms of Vitamin c deficiency are bleeding gums, easy bruising, bleeding gums, splitting hair and nails, red rough skin, painful joints, unexplained weight gain and frequent infections.
Estimation of vitamin C thus helps in assessing the overall nutritional, immune and cardiovascular status of the body. Because it is highly sensitive to stress, and the first nutrient to be depleted in alcoholics, smokers, and obese individuals, this makes it a perfect marker for overall wellbeing of the individual. The reference range of vitamin C is 0.6-2 mg/dL. Blood levels of less than 0.3 mg/dL indicate significant deficiency, while more than 0.6 mg/dL indicate adequate intake. Causes of low levels are scurvy, malabsorption syndromes, inflammatory bowel disease, alcoholism, pregnancy, hyperthyroidism, and kidney failure.
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