Vitamin C 101

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid) is an essential vitamin, meaning it must be obtained through the ingestion of certain foods or through dietary supplements. Foods that contain Vitamin C include citrus fruit (notably oranges), tomatoes and potatoes. For dietary supplementation, this nutrient can be acquired through the gastrointestinal track via mouth, or injected directly into the blood stream. In the human body, Vitamin C plays a vital role in a number of tissue repair processes, including collagen (skin connective tissue). Historically, Vitamin C was used in the treatment and prevention of scurvy. Empirical data has yet to support the commonly belief of its role in preventing colds.

When Was Vitamin C Discovered?

In 1912, Vitamin C was discovered. Over several years, this nutrient was finally isolated by 1928. It was first made a few years later in 1933. Disputes may arise over this vitamins effectiveness to treat and prevent colds, it is still a vital part of human nutrition. It is the most effective and safest medicine required for a healthy system. This has landed it in the “World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. It can be prescribed as a general medicine, or bought over the counter. Wholesale manufacturing costs in the United States is approximately $0.19-$0.54 each month.

Medical Uses of Vitamin C

• Scurvy – Early uses include the treatment and prevention of scurvy, which is the effects of Vitamin C deficiency, often experienced by early sailors spending months at sea without fruits.
• Cancer Prevention – There have been mixed reviews between 2011-2014 on the efficacy of Vitamin C usage to treat and prevent various forms of cancer. Clinically trials in some cases found no substantial evidence in its successful improvement as an anticancer agent. Other studies found some association with Vitamin C supplementation and overall improvement to mortality rate in breast and colorectal cancer.
• Cardiovascular Disease – Meta-analysis from 2013 showed no evidence of reduced risks of stroke, myocardial infarction and cardiovascular mortality. Further analysis, however, revealed a relationship between the stroke risk reduction and Vitamin C levels.
• Chronic Disease – Evidence from a 2012 review reveals Vitamin C to play no role in treating rheumatoid arthritis. In a clinically study contains 44 trials, the effects of Vitamin C in endothelial (vascular tissue lining) function showed positive benefits of great significance. These effects vary depending upon individual health, having strong effects in those with increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
• Common Cold – Extensive research of Cold treatment and prevention by Vitamin C reveals no evidence, save for very limited circumstances. Daily supplementation of Vitamin C cannot reduce the occurrences or severity of the common cold. However, it does show evidence of shortening illness duration.

Common Side Effects Of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is natural and accepted as generally safe. High doses have been shown to be tolerated by the human body. However, there are various side effects that one could potential experience when consuming relatively large doses of ascorbic acid.

Common Negative Reactions to Vitamin C

If consumed in large doses, ascorbic acid can cause indigestion, especially if taken when stomach is empty. These effects can been often minimized when ascorbic acid is taken as sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate. Large doses can also lead to diarrhea. At extremely high doses, ascorbic acid can be toxic. Symptoms can include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Flushed Face
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Skin Rash

Possible Side Effects of Vitamin C

Ascorbic Acid enhances the absorption rate of iron. Sufferers of haemochromatosis – a rare iron overload disorder – iron poisoning can occur. Large doses of ascorbic acid can also lead to the development of hemolytic anemia in people with genetic conditions that cause inadequate levels of the enzyme G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase).
Animal trials of pregnant rats indicate that high doses of ascorbic acid can suppress progesterone and corpus luteum production. These are vital to the early fetus development prior to placenta formation. It is benefits to maintenance during pregnancy.
Human studies are limited and inconclusive, but animal testing showed reduced mitochondria production in rats when high levels of ascorbic acid are introduced. Conflicting arguments include the potential decrease in athletic performance while supplementing with high ascorbic acid doses.
Ascrobic acid has a potential link to one particular cancer-causing mechanism. Hexavalent chromium is a chemical compound that triggers cancer cell production.

Overdose Symptoms

Ascorbic acid is a hydrophilic (water-soluble) nutrient. Excess ascorbic acid rapidly excretes through the urine. This provides it such an incredibly low toxicity rate. Studies have found that 11.9 grams per kilogram of body weight is the overdose level that can cause death in rats. Due to its low toxicity, the death mechanism dose in humans has yet to be discovered.

Todd Ruggets
Todd Ruggets

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