The Role of Vitamin C

The Role of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that neutralizes harmful excess free radicals and participates in the regeneration of other antioxidants. It is absorbed from the small intestine in the duodenum and proximal segment.

Thanks to its excellent solubility and active transport, vitamin C is absorbed by the body at around 70-80%.

Ascorbic acid is composed solely of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen (C6H8O6), which is very similar to the chemical structure of glucose (C6H12O6).

The most common function of vitamin C is its role in building immunity. There is evidence confirming the role of vitamin C in combating colds.

Doses >200 mg per day can shorten the duration of infection and alleviate accompanying symptoms, but mainly in people exposed to extreme physical exertion or cold (e.g., marathon runners, soldiers), in whom ascorbic acid is also effective in preventing colds.

However, natural supplements containing extracts from acerola, rose hips, and bitter orange are the best for boosting immunity.

Vitamin C also supports the absorption of iron (both heme and non-heme forms), which increases its bioavailability, and participates in the production of red blood cells, which can prevent anemia.

An important role of vitamin C is its involvement in the metabolism of certain hormones and neurotransmitters such as adrenaline, noradrenaline, dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, and gastrin. Ascorbic acid is also essential in the conversion of thyroid hormones, so it is worth measuring its level in the blood and considering supplementation in consultation with a doctor in case of thyroid dysfunction.

Ascorbic acid is also used in the treatment of hypertension, as it has been proven to be involved in regulating blood pressure. Numerous studies have shown that chronic vitamin C deficiencies can contribute to the development of atherosclerotic changes and an increase in blood pressure.

Regarding cancer prevention, the data is inconclusive. Analyzing the latest research, it can be stated that vitamin C does not affect the risk of developing cancer. As for the effectiveness of cancer treatment, scientists suggest that ascorbic acid can prolong the life of patients and improve its quality. The effects of its action depend on the method of administration – orally or intravenously. Unfortunately, there is a risk of developing a disease and many side effects because vitamin C potentially weakens the action of some types of chemotherapy and radiotherapy or interacts with anticancer drugs.

Vitamin C accelerates wound healing. The process of skin repair is very complex. After the formation of a clot, neutrophils are transported to the site of the wound, which clean it from damaged tissues and send signals to tissue macrophages. Leukocytes accumulate vitamin C (its concentration in cells is even 100 times higher than in serum). A scar is formed at the site of the wound, characterized by unidirectional collagen arrangement. Problems with wound healing and scratches may indicate hypovitaminosis C. Studies on pigs have shown that oral supplementation with vitamin C resulted in faster wound healing and increased tissue integrity. Studies have shown that increased intake of vitamin C and its supplementation had a beneficial effect on wound healing. Children with extensive burns who were supplemented with vitamins C and E showed faster wound healing.

Sources:

  • "Normy żywienia dla populacji Polski" by M. Jarosz
  • "Suplementy od A do Z" by M. Łyszczek
  • "Żywienie człowieka" edited by J. Gawęcki
  • "Witamina C. Rola i znaczenie dla organizmu" by A. Kantorska.
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