Vitamin C also called ascorbic acid is water soluble and found in many plant sources. It is an essential ingredient for making collagen, which is a type of protein which keeps the cells and tissue bound and intact. In fact it is a substance which makes the cell.
The cells in the body can stop growing or may even die if there is deficiency of vitamin C in our diet. Deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy. People with this disease get easily bruised as their blood vessels become weak. Vitamin C keeps the skin and inner lining of blood vessels strong and healthy.
Functions And Benefits Of Vitamin C
Vitamin C plays an important role in production of collagen, a type of protein. One of the functions of collagen is to keep your skin smooth and supple. It is also important for maintaining health of cartilage, gums and bones, besides other tissues and organs of body.
- Vitamin C initiates faster healing process. It heals wounds and cuts faster.
- Vitamin C helps the body to fight against invading germs and thus it reduces chances of infection in a person who has sufficient amount of vitamin C.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means it has capacity to fight against free radicals that harm the body. Thus it has capability of reducing the bad effects produced by smoking tobacco and other harmful substances. It prevents formation of certain cancerous cells.
- It participates in keeping the blood vessels flexible and healthy. The collagen in blood vessel wall is not damaged due to vitamin C and thus it prevents narrowing of arteries and veins. Indirectly vitamin C reduces the development of high blood pressure and heart disease.
- It keeps a check on cholesterol level.
- Lack of vitamin C causes scurvy. In ancient days scurvy was prevalent in travelers as they remained devoid of getting vitamin C from vegetables and fruits. Early manifestation of scurvy is bleeding gums, anemia, weakness, joint inflammation, falling of teeth etc. In its severe form, scurvy can become fatal.
- Appears to lower the risk of developing cataracts, clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision.
Food Sources Of Vitamin C
Here are some of the vitamin C enriched foods and fruits:
- Fruits: Almost all fruits are rich in vitamin C. However, in certain fruits it is found in plenty. These fruits are oranges, kiwi, lemon, strawberries, etc.
- Vegetables: Though certain amount of vitamin C is present in all vegetables, but vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, pumpkins, parsley, cauliflower, potatoes contain abundant vitamin C.
- Herbs: Garlic and watercress.
- Other sources: In milk and sea food vitamin C is found in lesser amount.
Problems Due To Vitamin C Deficiency
Variety of symptoms may appear with vitamin C deficiency.
- Bleeding gums: Deficiency of vitamin C may cause bleeding from gums. It is one of the reasons for periodontal disease. It is one the major indication of a disease called scurvy which was prevalent in sailors centuries ago. However, today due to availability of food and vegetables even on long sea trip, the condition has become rare.
- Dryness of skin and hair: Lack of vitamin C causes skin dryness. The hair loses its sheen and becomes coarse.
- Infections: One of the reasons for recurrent skin infection is deficiency of vitamin C. The body does not have capacity to fight infective organism when there is lack of vitamin C. The wounds also take longer time to heal.
- People bruise easily even with minor trauma if they have deficiency of vitamin C in their body.
- People having deficiency of ascorbic acid are found to be short tempered and depressed.