A TRUE VITAL AMINE – Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic acid, is the most famous, well-consumed of all vitamins. It is also the most sought-after health supplement worldwide, especially in the winters.
Though we all are big Vitamin C admirers, do we know what it exactly is?
Let’s see what it is?
Common Flu and Vitamin C -go hand in hand
With the slight anticipation of cough, cold, or fever, most of us run for Vitamin C tablets as they have successfully proven their potential to milder the course of flu now and then, for ages.
How does it do so?
- By supporting and strengthening the natural defense mechanism.
- By fighting inflammation.
- The strong ANTIOXIDANT nature of this Vitamin is responsible for reducing the severity and duration of infection.
Are you aware?
Though widely touted as a natural defense against the regular flu, vitamin C has multiple other health benefits.
- It’s a Powerful ANTIOXIDANT
- Acts as a potent reducing agent.
- Neutralizes harmful free radicals and thus
- Combats oxidative stress.
- Recycle other antioxidants such as glutathione, vit A and E.
- Being an ANTIOXIDANT- it reduces oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL) and thereby reduces the incidence of atherosclerosis, High BP and Heart diseases.
- Decreases Triglyceride levels.
- Improves endothelial function and ejection fraction.
- Relaxes blood vessels- lowers BP.
2. Potent Immune Booster:
- Vitamin C enhances the production and functioning of white blood cells, the frontline warriors of our immune system.
- Also influences differentiation and proliferation of B-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects.
- Antimicrobial action: by enhancing chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species.
- As an antioxidant, it protects the immune system from the oxidative stress generated by infections.
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by removal of free radicals responsible for inflammation and lowering C-Reactive Proteins.
- By maintaining the skin integrity, it also improves the physical barrier defence mechanism of the body.
- It is also known for its antibacterial, antiviral and antihistaminic actions.
3. Stay Young Always-Key to Youth:
As we age, natural collagen production in body declines.
Vitamin C can boost this collagen production by aiding hydroxylation of proline and lysine, a pivotal step in COLLAGEN synthesis and thus promote
- Younger Skin:
- Collagen makes the skin firm, plump and smooth by enhancing elasticity and quality of the skin, and averts skin wrinkling and sagging.
- As an antioxidant, it fights against free radical damage to the skin caused by sun damage and pollution.
- It brightens the skin and helps fade dark spots (hyperpigmentation) by inhibiting tyrosinase enzyme which converts tyrosine into melanin, thereby giving an even skin tone.
- Younger tissues: collagen maintains the integrity of teeth, gums, bones, joints and ligaments.
- Hair Benefits: Vitamin C promotes healthier hair by improving collagen content and absorption of non-heme iron, both of which are necessary for hair growth. Along with quinoa, it can also boost colour retention, shields against UV rays and even reduce breakage.
- Elevated Moods: stimulates synthesis of mood elevating neurotransmitters; Epinephrine, Nor-epinephrine and Dopamine.
- Energy of Young: Vitamin C furnishes L-Carnitine which is needed to burn fats for energy.
This altogether generates a sense of freshness and youthfulness and Vitamin C acquires a fixed place in the daily beauty –routine.
4. At the Genetic level:
Vitamin C is required for demethylation of DNA when needed. It thus maintains methylation/demethylation balance to regulate gene expression.
The ability to think, concentrate and memorize deteriorates with age. Vitamin C tends to alleviate this by reducing the oxidative stress and inflammation around the central nervous system.
6. Enzyme action:
Vitamin C acts as a cofactor for various enzymes involved in the basic functioning of the human body.
E.g., dioxygenases and monooxygenases, hydroxylases, etc.
7. Iron absorption:
- Vitamin C helps in better absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods such as beans, spinach, and quinoa.
- Converts ferric to the more bioavailable ferrous form.
- A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that adding 100 mg of ascorbic acid to meals boosted iron absorption by 67%
8. Improved Wound Healing:
By triggering collagen formation, Vitamin C speeds up the healing process of burns, cuts, wounds, sprains/strains, and broken bones.
9. Ocular Effects:
The antioxidant action of vitamin C either delays the onset or slows down the progress of diseases like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration; the prominent causes of low vision in the elderly.
10. Benefits in Pregnancy and Childhood:
- Prevents iron deficiency anemia by increasing non-heme iron absorption.
- Supports baby’s immune system.
- Builds up baby’s iron stores, which support their learning and growth for the first 6 months of life.
- Dehydroascorbic Acid (DHA) – an oxidized form of ascorbic acid essential for foetal and infant brain development.
- Collagen is needed for baby’s average growth throughout pregnancy.
11. Sports and Fitness:
- Decreases recovery time between workouts.
- Connective tissue repair following damage.
- Reverse some of the oxidative damage that may occur from exercise.
12. It reduces the risk of chronic diseases
like atherosclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, stroke, cancers, gout, and diabetes by its antioxidant properties.
All these benefits make Vitamin C ‘A MUST HAVE’ for good health and immunity. It undeniably opens
‘A GATEWAY to healthier, stronger, better and beautiful life.’ Doesn’t it?
But the problem is,
We, the humans, can’t synthesize this precious Vitamin in our body, endogenously. Neither can we store it. Thus, we have to consume it externally daily.
Where can we get Vitamin C from?
1. Fruits– oranges, kiwis, lemons, gooseberries, grapes, guava, papaya, cantaloupe and strawberries.
2. Vegetables– tomatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and peppers.
3. Fresh herbs- such as cilantro, chives, thyme, basil and parsley.
Tablets, capsules, and chewable are probably the most popular forms, but vitamin C also comes in powdered crystalline, effervescent, and liquid forms.
Why do we need Vitamin C Supplements?
Vitamin C, in its pure form, is water-soluble, fragile, and highly sensitive to air, light, temperature, and pH changes.
Thus, a significant amount of vitamin C in fruits and veggies is lost during their storage and cooking. So, to ensure the optimum intake, vitamin supplements are being considered on a regular basis.
In addition, the pure Vitamin C (either dietary or supplemental) being highly fragile is easily degraded by the gastric juices in the digestive tract, and thus only a small fraction of it is available for absorption.
To take it further, the capacity of the intestine to absorb pure Vitamin C at a given point of time is also limited by the number of transporters available to take free Vitamin C molecules across the intestinal cells to be absorbed in the bloodstream. The absorption rate falls drastically (around 50% less) at a concentration higher than 1gm/day as compared to that at lower doses of 30-180mg/day (Bowel tolerance).
In this way, around 50-70% of Vitamin C is either destroyed or left unabsorbed which is then flushed out in urine.
What an immense wastage it is? This dramatically reduces the bioavailability of Vitamin C taken orally either as food or supplements.
Giving smaller doses at frequent intervals or showing intravenous Vitamin daily can be an alternative to this, but these methods are quite inconvenient and lack compliance.
Thus, to mitigate this tricky question of bioavailability, scientists figured out a novel way to administer Vitamin C as ‘The LIPOSOMAL VITAMIN C SUPPLEMENTS ’, which is nowadays proving itself as a ground-breaking achievement in the field of Vitamin C absorption.