In 1742, it was discovered that lemon juice prevents scurvy (a disease that has often affected seafarers on long journeys), but many years later, in 1928., it was discovered that the substance responsible for the effect of lemon juice was actually vitamin C. Since it works against scurvy, scientists call it ascorbic acid.
Today, it is mostly used as a substance that can give protection to cells. It is the main water-soluble antioxidant and helps to prevent damage caused by unstable free radicals; its main place of action is intracellular space, where there is plenty of water.
How does it work?
Vitamin C has effects throughout the body. It helps strengthen the capillaries (smallest blood vessels) and cell membranes, and is needed to create collagen (the major protein of connective tissue). This prevents the formation of bruises, stimulates the healing and strengthening of ligaments (tissues that connect the bones) and tendons (tissues that connect muscles with bones), and keeps the dental flesh healthy and strong. It also helps create hemoglobin in red blood cells, as well as iron absorption from food.
PREVENTION: since it is antioxidant, vitamin C protects against cancer and heart disease; several studies have shown that the low value of this vitamin is related with heart failure. This substance can prolong life! According to one study, people who injected more than 300 mg of vitamin C (from food or dietary supplements) per day lived longer than those who injected less than 50 mg.
Another study has shown that long-term dietary supplements with vitamin C protect against premature cataract, clouding of the lenses, a reason why vision becomes weaker. In women who had been taking vitamin C for ten or more years, the first stage of cataract appeared 77% less frequently than in those who did not use dietary supplements of this substance.
ADDITIONAL USEFUL EFFECTS: does the vitamin C suppress the cold? Probably not, but it can help alleviate the symptoms and shorten the duration of the disease. In 1995, a study was conducted that revealed that taking 1000 to 6000 mg of vitamin C on the day the first symptoms appear may shorten the duration of the cold by 21% or one day. Other studies have shown that it helps older people with severe respiratory tract infections. It seems that this substance is a natural antihistamine. Namely, very large doses may weaken the effect of substances produced in the body in response to contact with pollen, hair of domestic animal and other allergens.
It is also effective against asthma. Numerous studies have shown that taking vitamin C supplements helps to prevent and mitigate the symptoms of this disease. In type I diabetes, transport of vitamin C to cells is difficult; taking 1000 to 3000 mg of this substance can help prevent complications such as eye diseases and high cholesterol levels.
How much vitamin C is needed?
Recommended daily dose of vitamin C and for both men and women is 40 mg; for smokers, the dose is 80 mg. But, even conservative nutritionists believe that people should take at least 200 mg daily, and even more in the treatment against some diseases.
IF YOU TAKE TOO LITTLE: scurvy is generated with a dose of less than 10 mg of vitamin C per day. The intake of less than 50 mg may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cataract and shorter life expectancy.
IF YOU TAKE TOO MUCH: large doses, which means more than 1000 mg per day, can cause a soft stool or diarrhea and flatulence. Problems will disappear if you decrease the dose. In these amounts, vitamin C can interfere with the absorption of copper and selenium, so you should take a sufficient amount of these substances. Long-term taking of large doses of this vitamin can cause kidney stones in people who are prone to it.
How to take it?
For maintaining health: take 200 mg of this substance, either from food or dietary supplements.
In treating various diseases: depending on the disease, up to 1000 mg per day is recommended.
USE GUIDELINES: the best absorption is achieved by taking 200 mg of vitamin C with food. This vitamin achieves a very good effect in combination with other antioxidants, such as vitamin E.
Good sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and citrus juices, broccoli, dark green leafy vegetables, red peppers, strawberries and kiwi.
IMPORTANT: if you have kidney stones, some kidney disease or hemochromatosis (an excessive accumulation of iron in the body), do not take more than 500 mg of vitamin C per day because it increases iron absorption.