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Vitamin Directory - Vitamin C

[Do Not Use]DK Publishing logo[Do Not Use]DK Publishing 2/07/2014 DKBooks

Vitamin C

Daily requirement
men: 90mg per day
women: 75mg per day

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C cannot be manufactured by the body so it must be acquired from the diet. It is the least stable of the vitamins and is easily destroyed during cooking and food processing. If consumed in high quantities, excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine. Vitamin C is essential for the formation of collagen, an important structural protein that strengthens bones and blood vessels and anchors teeth into the gums, in addition to being necessary for body growth, tissue repair, and wound healing. It also acts as an antioxidant, protects against infection by enabling white blood cells to break down bacteria, is involved in the production of red blood cells and their oxygen-carrying pigment hemoglobin, and helps the body absorb iron from the intestine.

Vitamin C deficiency

People who do not get enough fresh citrus fruits and juices may have insufficient vitamin C intake, as may those who are following a restricted diet. Regular drinkers and smokers are at risk of vitamin C deficiency since alcohol prevents the absorption of the vitamin and cigarette smoking depletes levels. People with wounds and burns, pneumonia, tuberculosis, and rheumatic fever, as well as those recovering from surgery, may need more vitamin C to help with the healing process.

Vitamin C deficiency causes scurvy, which is a condition that leads to muscle weakness, joint pain, problems with wound healing, loose teeth, bleeding and swollen gums, easily bruised skin or little red spots on the skin, fatigue, and sometimes depression.

Good sources

Vitamin C

This is found in these foods, which contain at least 10mg of the vitamin per 13/4–7oz (50–200g):




Brussels sprouts


Bell peppers











Vitamin C and the common cold

The role of vitamin C in fighting infection has been controversial for decades. At present, research shows that vitamin C reduces histamine levels in the body, and it can be helpful in reducing the symptoms as well as the duration of a cold. However, there is no evidence to suggest that vitamin C can prevent or cure the common cold. It is advisable to try to get all your vitamin C from your diet. If you do take supplements, limit them to less than 500mg per day because higher doses may cause problems such as diarrhea and kidney stones.

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