Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential water soluble vitamin we can’t manufacture in our bodies and must be obtained through diet. Fortunately, we can find it readily in most fruits and vegetables. Without vitamin C, people can die of diseases, such as scurvy, and, in fact, you’ve probably heard the story about British sailors dying from scurvy in the 1700s. The cause of their deaths was eventually figured out by a Scottish naval doctor named James Lind. Lind discovered the sailors needed citrus, and after that British sailors went to sea with limes, and that’s how they inherited the nickname “limeys.”
Although people knew as early as the mid 1700s citrus was important to health, the idea of vitamins and the word vitamin did not actually come into use until the early 1900s. The idea of vitamins occurred primarily because scientists noticed problems when diet deficiencies were present, and it was these deficiencies that lead scientists to realize a lack of vitamins could cause disease, as was the case with the British sailors and scurvy.
Vitamin C in high doses is usually not toxic, and excesses are usually eliminated in the urine. People who have a tendency towards gout or kidney stones should avoid high doses, and, for such people, vitamin C may lead to more problems or kidney stones. On the other hand, smokers or people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) usually have a shortage of vitamin C and need more vitamin C than their diets provide. Additionally, people who are slow to heal, bruise easily, or have low resistant to infection, need more vitamin C.
Vitamin C can benefit people in other ways such as
- Aids in metabolism and thyroid function
- Assists in lowering blood cholesterol
- Assists diabetics in reducing blood sugar levels
- Detoxifies and serve as an antioxidant in the body
- Fights against the common cold and viruses
- Forms and maintain collagen, which aids in rapid healing
- Helps alleviate asthma symptoms
- Helps constipation, as it serves as a natural laxative
- Helps with addictions, such as tobacco, alcohol, narcotics, or sugar
- Improves feelings of well being and reduce stress
- Prevents cancer, cataracts, and glaucoma
- Reduces cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- Relieves back pain and inflamed discs
- Stimulates adrenal and immune functions
Fruits with the highest levels of vitamin C are guavas, oranges, lemons, limes, papayas, mangoes, grapefruits, loganberries, blackcurrants, persimmons, tangerines, and kiwifruit. Vegetables sources include parsley, red bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin C should NOT be taken with red or processed meats