Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development. Since our childhood, our elders have been teaching us the importance of Vitamin C. In fact, in every aspect of skincare, you can trace the valuable contributions of Vitamin C. Whenever you consult dermatologists they prescribe you Vitamin C based ointments and medications. But skincare and prevention of potential health problems was not that easy before the discovery of Vitamin C.
What are the Functions of Vitamin C?
Previously Vitamin C was identified as an anti-curvy agent, but now researchers have been able to uncover the other functions of Vitamin C. The Vitamin influences other cellular reactions and processes as well.
- The vitamin aids in the better absorption of iron by converting the mineral into a chemical form which can be easily absorbed from the digestive tract.
- Vitamin C helps in the proper functioning of the immune system by supporting the functions of the white blood cells.
- Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen, an important protein which is responsible for maintaining rigidity in the cells of the gums, muscles, bones, cartilage and blood vessels. If adequate collagen is not produced in the body, then the consequences would involve breakdown of the muscle tissue, weakening of the blood vessels and the body's inability to form scar tissue which in turn affects the healing of wounds.
- Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which neutralizes the damaging effects of the free radicals. These free radicals are by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy, and are responsible for the body's aging process and for the development of the diseases like cancer, arthritis and heart problems. Antioxidants also help reduce the damage to the body caused by toxic chemicals and pollutants such as cigarette smoke.
- Vitamin C also plays an important role in the production of the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. Norepinephrine, along with serotonin, has been found to be directly related to the control of anxiety and depression.
- The epithelial tissues of the mouth become less permeable by the actions of Vitamin C. This prevents the entry of bacteria.
- Vitamin C is vital for the production of a small molecule called carnitine which aids in the transport of fat to the cellular organelles called mitochondria, where the fat gets converted into energy.
What are the Applications of Vitamin C in the Food Industry?
Researchers in the food industry have discovered various uses of Vitamin C in preservation as well as in the enhancement of food quality.
- Vitamin C is required to maintain the color, quality and freshness of food products processed from fruits, vegetables, seafood and meats.
- Vitamin C is deployed to slow down the formation of unpleasant odors in dairy products, seafood, fats and oils.
- Use of Vitamin C leads to improved bread dough and an increase in the volume of loaf.
What are the Dietary Sources of Vitamin C?
It is very important to include foods rich in Vitamin C in our daily diet because the body does not synthesize or store this vitamin (being a water-soluble vitamin, the leftover amounts leave the body through the urine) for future purposes. Foods containing the highest amount of vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices (oranges, lemon etc), tomatoes, strawberries, guava, kiwifruit, green peppers, turnip greens, broccoli and other leafy green vegetables. Other excellent sources include mango, papaya, watermelon, cabbage, cauliflower, red peppers, blueberries, cranberries, winter squash and pineapples.
What are the Deficiency Symptoms of Vitamin C?
- Swollen Gums and Dental Problems: These are actually symptoms of scurvy which is often associated with bleeding as well.
- Weakness: People tend to feel tired, weak and irritable. Deficiency of this vitamin also results in decreased ability to fight infection, thus making you more susceptible to colds and other infections.
- Anemia: Since Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, so a deficiency can lead to anemia.
- Dry Skin and Hair: Deficiency of Vitamin C can cause dryness in the skin and hair.
Since Vitamin C comes from food sources, so deficiency of Vitamin C signifies that the diet does not include enough fruits or vegetables. Again, cooking can also destroy some portions of Vitamin C in the food. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, disorders that involve inflammation and fever and surgeries increase the body's requirement for Vitamin C. Smoking raises the requirement for Vitamin C by around 30 percent. So it is very important to include fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet to meet the body's day-to-day requirement of the Vitamin.