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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is critical for vitality and health because it maintains blood vessels, skin, and bones.   Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C is found in several foods, predominantly in fruits and vegetables. 

Vitamin C has important roles in the production of neurotransmitters and tissue repair.  It also has important roles in regulating several enzymes and the function of immune cells which are critical for the inflammatory response in case of injury.  Many animals can produce vitamin C naturally, but humans cannot and must obtain it from a food source or dietary supplement. 

Vitamin C is critical for the prevention of diseases such as scurvy which was common among the early European explorers in the 1500-1600s.  Many were able to recover when they got off the ships in North America and obtained access to leaves of eastern white cedar trees or other fruits such as lemons which contained high levels of vitamin C.  Scurvy is often a result of malnutrition and therefore still occurs in the modern world, most often in developing countries.  Often it requires at least one month of an absence of vitamin C before symptoms of scurvy begin to occur including weakness and sore arms and legs.  As many of the early sailors discovered, recovery can be achieved when vitamin C is restored to the diet; however, scurvy can be lethal if left untreated.

Vitamin C is prevalent in oranges, broccoli, kiwifruit, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, as well as many other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C can be tolerated well in most individuals, so if you are unsure if you are obtaining sufficient amounts from your diet, then you may wish to consider taking a vitamin C dietary supplement.


National Institute of Health

Harvard School of Public Health

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