Vitamin C

It may seem difficult to imagine, but the deficiency of Vitamin C was documented as far back as Hippocrates.

Scurvy was first described in Hippocrates writing about 400BC.

Scientific studies, such as they were, were first introduced in 17th century when lemon juice was recommended to help prevent and cure scurvy.

In the 18th century firm studies were done. James Lind provided half the sailors on ships with one lemon and two oranges each day.

The results of this very first study of it's kind were conclusive in that the sailors with the citrus intake did not get scurvy.


Scurvy is a Vitamin C deficiency that includes symptoms of:

  • Spongy Gums

  • The Formation of Spots on the skin

  • And Bleeding from the Mucus Membranes.

  • However, it wasn't until six years later that the results of the study were made public. Part of the reason for this was that Lind recommended the use of lemon juice extract.

    It was later found that lemons processed in copper kettles removed most of the available vitamin C in the fruit.

    Eventually due to cost restrictions, limes were on board all English vessels.

    Limes were provided because they were less expensive than the lemons which had to be imported.

    The term antiscorbutic came into existence when it was found that other foods besides citrus prevented scurvy. Some of those foods included sauerkraut, cabbage, malt and some portable soups.

    These along with limes, oranges and lemons were in place on all of the ships at sea to prevent or treat this debilitating and sometimes fatal disease.

    1907 brought the biological assay model which isolated and identified the "antiscorbutic factor". Norwegian physicians who were studying beriberi using pigeons decided to use a different small mammal.

    They chose the guinea pig. The guinea pigs, however, developed scurvy, not beriberi.

    At that time they learned that by adding fresh foods, vegetables and lightly cooked meat, the scurvy was cured.

    Foods served in their most natural state, such as raw fruits and vegetables and meat that has not been overcooked contain a greater amount of vitamin C than cooked vegetables or overcooked, well-done meats.

    The many values of vitamin C studies continued for decades and still continues today.

    Physiological Functions

    Vitamin C is extremely essential in the human diet. It is an effective antioxidant, as well as an enzyme co-factor for other biochemicals. It also acts a donor of electrons for some important enzymes.

    The function of certain enzymes is greatly affected by vitamin C. Proline, lysyl hydorxylase, and prolyl hydroxylase are hydroxylated by vitamin C. These particular enzymes function in cartilage, blood vessels and scar tissue.

    Carnitine, which is essentially the transporter of fatty acids also depends on vitamin C. Dopamine beta hydrylase is essential in the norepinephrine synthesis from dopamine.

    By adding enzymes to peptide hormones, their stability is increased. Another will modulate tyrosine metabolism.

    Vitamin C is well known for it's antioxidant benefits. Reducing free radicals helps in many physical conditions including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, inflammatory diseases and diabetes.


    The immune system is vitally important to prevent and fight disease. A deficiency in vitamin C is harmful to the function of the immune system which results in reducing the resistance to certain pathogens.

    Although supplementing vitamins is not indicated for everyone, it has been indicated that it will reduce some severity of certain symptoms including but not limited to the common cold.

    Vitamin C may not cure the cold, but it does have many other benefits, such as assisting in preventing immune system deficiency, prenatal problems, skin wrinkling and diseases of the eye.

    The list of benefits in vitamin C is growing at a regular pace. The more studies done, the more benefits are discovered.

    There is a distinct possibility the ingesting vitamin C at recommended doses is a true nutritional marker for health.

    It is very diverse in it's benefits and not limited to any particular system in the human body.

    It is however, possible that the truly beneficial dosage may be higher than the recommended daily dietary allowance recommended by the ADA.

    The RDA of vitamin C is merely 75-90mg per day for adults. It has been suggested in many studies that 500 mg Is far more beneficial.

    A small percentage of adults actually eat the recommended number of fruits and vegetables each day. If they do eat the five recommended they still aren't getting a beneficial amount of the vitamin.

    In order to achieve the 500 mg recommended dosage, the average adult human would have to eat nine vegetables and fruits each and every day.

    Depending on your source of information, the various experts recommended the same amounts, but the ADA recommends getting it totally with food, while other scientists recommend a supplement.

    There is no harm in adding a 500 mg supplement each day. There are some types that will be irritating to the GI system but by taking one that is the buffered form, these can be prevented.

    Food Sources of Vitamin C

    Some of the foods that are rich in vitamin C are:1 cup of orange juice, which contains the RDA. 97 mg.

    • Broccoli that is cooked. 1 cup 74mg
    • Cantaloupe 59 mg per 8 ounces or 1 cup
    • Red peppers, 95 mg per ½ cup
    • Green peppers, 60 mg per ½ cup
    • Tomato juice 45mg. Per cup.

    Individuals with a high amount of stress in their lives are likely to have weakened immune systems. This includes people who smoke, are alcoholics, are overweight, and those who have highly stressful jobs. Vitamin C will be beneficial as a supplement to these individuals.

    Vitamin C is not likely to cure the common cold, it does however, seem to help in preventing the more serious complications such as lung infections and pneumonia.

    Conflicting research has indicated the people with high amounts of vitamin C in their systems had less of a chance of stroke, by forty two percent.

    What has been difficult to prove is why this happens. Possibly it is due to eating healthier diets all around and therefore the person is getting other essential nutrients.

    Not only does vitamin C have an affect on our internal cells, but also on our skin.

    Higher intake of vitamin C have been associated with less dryness of skin, less wrinkling and less aging appearance.

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