What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is also referred to as ascorbic acid. Humans do not have the ability to produce their own vitamin C unlike animals and most mammals.
This means that vitamin C can only be obtained through our diet. As a water-soluble vitamin, the body will only be using certain amounts and excrete the excess amounts through urine, stools and even sweat.
The body is in great need of ascorbic acid as it is vital for the growth and repair of tissues. It helps the body in making collagen, which is an essential protein used in making cartilage, ligaments, tendons, blood vessels, and skin. It is also needed in repairing and maintaining teeth and bones and in healing wounds.
Vitamin C Antioxidant
The Vitamin C antioxidant plays a major role in preventing diseases and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Thousands of studies have been conducted and have shown how this water-soluble vitamin can greatly influence all body processes and diseases. The four most known functions that are highly affected by vitamin C are collagen synthesis, the immune system, the cardiovascular system, and antioxidant activity.
Aside from the above mentioned health benefits of vitamin C, it is also a highly effective antioxidant. Antioxidants are closely involved in cellular damage prevention, which is the common pathway for aging, cancer, and numerous diseases.
Cellular damages are caused by free radicals, which are group of atoms that have unpaired number of electron and forms when oxygen interacts with certain molecules.
When these highly reactive radicals are formed, they will start a chain-like reaction. The major damages happens when free radicals react and damages cell membrane, DNA and other cellular components. This is because cells can die or function poorly when this occurs. The body has a defense system of antioxidants in order to prevent these free radicals damages.
Antioxidants are molecules that safely interact with free radicals while terminating the chain reaction prior to the damaging of the vital molecules. Amidst the several enzymes systems that can scavenge free radicals within the body, the principle vitamin or micronutrient antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin E, and vitamin C. In some instances, since selenium – a trace metal in the body — is needed for the proper function of one of the antioxidant enzyme systems of the body, it is sometimes included in this category. These micronutrients cannot be manufactured by the body so they need to be supplied in the diet.
The effective Vitamin C antioxidant can help to protect nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), carbohydrates, fats or lipids, proteins, and other indispensable molecules in the body from the damages caused by reactive oxygen species and free radicals that can be generated through exposure to pollutants and toxins, as well as in normal metabolism. A recent study had shown that vitamin C can regenerate vitamin E from its oxidized form in cigarette smokers. Further research is being conducted on how vitamin C can possibly regenerate other antioxidants.
Vitamin C Antioxidant References and Further Reading
DePaul university; LPI: University of Texas Southwestern; Rice University; UMM; University of Arkansas.