Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. It is an essential nutrient that we as humans cannot make on our own and therefore must receive it from our diet and supplement intake. Severe vitamin C deficiency was first identified back in ancient Rome, Egypt and Greece when military crews developed scurvy during long sea voyages. Scurvy results in weakening of collagenous structures resulting in poor wound healing and impaired immunity. Individuals with scurvy are highly susceptible to infections such as pneumonia and additionally can develop jaundice, neuropathy, seizures and death.
We know vitamin C to be a potent antioxidant, but it actually serves MANY functions which are listed below.
*acts as a reducing agent to keep both enzymes active needed for the cross-linking in collagen
*poor collagen formation leads to poor wound healing of the skin, cartilage, dentine, osteoid and capillary blood vessels.
Norepinephrine (NE) synthesis
*needed for the conversion of dopamine → norepinephrine
*NE helps break down fat and increases blood sugar levels to provide more energy to the body and can improve energy and attentiveness
*Low levels of NE can result in physical and mental symptoms including anxiety, depression and changes in blood pressure
Aids in the absorption of iron
*vitamin C works by reducing ferric iron to ferrous iron
*vitamin C blocks the degradation of ferritin to hemosiderin (a form of iron storage that is a less bioavailable form)
*you should always take your iron supplement with vitamin C to ensure optimal absorption
Steroid hormone synthesis
*provides protection against oxidative stress-induced cellular damage by scavenging for reactive oxygen species (ROS) also known as free radicals. Cancer and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) have been linked to oxidative damage to tissues.
Drug metabolism and detox
Degradation of cholesterol
Regulation of cellular humoral immune function and increased macrophage activity
*enhances the differentiation and proliferation of B and T cells
*helps upregulate macrophage activity
*free radical scavenger
Activation of some vitamins to their active form
*conversion of folacin → tetrahydrolic acid
*conversion of tryptophan → 5-hydroxytryphtophan → serotonin
*at doses over 6-8 grams per day
* doses of 2-8 grams per day have been shown to reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections
*high dose IV vitamin C (24g/day) acts as an antiviral drug
Uric Acid Reduction
*Gout is a painful arthritis disease resulting from extreme pain due to increased uric acid levels in the body. Vitamin C has been shown to help reduce uric acid levels in the blood and protect against gout attacks.
Vitamin C is a nutrient involved in stress. The vitamin C concentration is highest in the adrenal glands and during stress vitamin C is released. Thus during active infection or stress to the body, increasing your intake to replenish the amount lost in the adrenals makes sense. Additionally, when concentrations of vitamin C in the body are low, excretion of the vitamin is decreased.