Ascorbic acid, popularly known as Vitamin C, can be tagged as the commonest vitamin known the man. Found in a myriad of vegetables and fruits, this vitamin offers huge benefits to the body both in maintaining the physiological functions of the body and to help ward off diseases. Since this vitamin is not synthesized by the body, its continuous intake is very vital. As a water-soluble vitamin, it is easily eliminated from the body, thus it is needed by the body in large quantities. But “large quantities” doesn’t translate to abuse. It is as beneficial to the body as it is harmful (if taken large doses.)
Ascorbic acid is necessary for the normal growth and physiological function of the body. It is involved in many functions of the body such as wound healing and repair of body tissues, collagen formation, iron absorption, and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Also, ascorbic acid is an antioxidant. What this means is that it boosts the immune system by mopping up or decomposing free radicals (highly reactive unpaired electrons) which have often been implicated in the etiology of many diseases. Accumulation of free radicals through stress, smoking or excessive alcohol intake is responsible for many chronic diseases. Furthermore, another way vitamin C helps in boosting the immunity of the body is by increasing the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes and phagocytes) that help in fighting infections. Ascorbic acid helps in the absorption of iron. Iron as a mineral found in the hemoglobin of red blood cells and myoglobin of muscle cells transports oxygen and carbon dioxide. Absorbed at sufficient quantities, it prevents anemia. In addition to the aforementioned benefits, ascorbic acid has been found in improving the health and age of the skin. The skin can be affected by stress and free radicals, but ascorbic acid has been found to limit the effects of these agents, thereby reducing the likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin and a better skin-aging appearance. I guess vitamin C can be called an elixir of life. A renewal of youth.
It is true that vitamin C is easily eliminated from the body and thus a case of overdosage is rare. Very rare. However, as with all things that have immense benefits, vitamin C can also pose problems if taken in excess. For example, too much vitamin C can make the kidney a seabed of hard deposits made of minerals and salts. Also, large doses of vitamin C can condition the body to quickly clear the vitamin as soon as it gets into the body. When this happens, there is a lack of vitamin C in the body which results in the weakness of the body, sore arms and leg, decreased red blood cells and bleeding. As an acid, vitamin C can exacerbate the ulcerations in the stomach or duodenum. However, these effects are caused by oral vitamin C supplements. To get the maximum and safe benefits of ascorbic acid, it is best to go for the natural sources of the vitamin.
Ascorbic acid can be gotten from various fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Examples of these sources include tomato, orange, tangerine, spinach, cabbage, turnip, green and red peppers, broccoli, watermelon, strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, cranberry, pineapple, papaya, mango, kiwi fruit, grapefruit, and cantaloupe. Note: Exposure to light reduces ascorbic acid in these sources, so when buying these fruits and veggies, select them carefully.
Credits: Kathleen M. Zelman, The Benefits of Vitamin C (WebMD) Gideon Chukwuemeka Ogbonna, The Vitamin C Myth (Crystalinksis Blog, December 27, 2017)