Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present various foods but mainly in vegetables and fruit. Highest concentrations of vitamin C are found in red and yellow peppers. For good health it should be available in the diet daily. Recommended daily amounts for vitamin C are 110 mg for men and 80 mg for women, while children should take at least 20 mg per day. Because the body can’t store large amounts, there is a threshold for vitamin C; the body can’t absorb more than 50 mol/L and the surplus is excreted via the kidneys in urine.
Vitamin C plays a key role in several bodily functions including:
Antioxidant – Protection
Vitamin C is well known for its antioxidant properties; it cooperates well with vitamin E and prevents alone and in combination with vitamin E against oxidative damage from free radicals. By limiting oxidative damage, vitamin C helps to reduce the risk for chronic diseases including hearth diseases. Some research has suggested that vitamin C may help treat cancer by fighting oxidative damage.
Normal structure of tissues
Sufficient daily intake of vitamin C improves repair of tissues such as bones, teeth, skin and blood vessels. This is because vitamin C contributes to the production of collagen which is primary for tissue repair.
Vitamin C supports the normal function of the nervous system. Its primary role is to support the production (biosynthesis) of noradrenaline. In addition, vitamin C is involved in the modulation of neurotransmitter receptors that are needed for normal psychological functions.
Vitamin C plays an important role in the normal function of the immune system. It supports the immune defence primarily through scavenging free radicals. Free radicals are produced when immune cells attack invading bacteria and viruses. Large amounts of free radicals are also produced during extreme physical exercise and jeopardizes the immune system. Because vitamin C is such a strong antioxidant, it counteracts the harm of free radicals.
Blood iron levels
Vitamin C supports healthy iron levels. It prevents anaemia by improving the absorption of iron from plant-based foods.
Vitamin C is important for sufficient energy levels and reduces tiredness and fatigue. It is important for the production of energy formation in cells.
EFSA has acknowledged the following beneficial effects as a basis for health claims:
- Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage
- Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation and the normal function of bones, teeth, cartilage, gums, skin and blood vessels
- Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the nervous system
- Vitamin C increases non-haem iron absorption
- Vitamin C contributes to a normal function of the immune system
- Vitamin C contributes to maintain the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise
- Vitamin C contributes to normal energy-yielding metabolism
- Vitamin C can contribute to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue
- Vitamin C contributes to normal psychological functions
- Vitamin C contributes to the regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin E