Vitamin C is probably the most famous of the vitamins. In fact, we have all heard since childhood the importance of eating foods with vitamin C on a daily basis, and I can already tell you that they go beyond citrus fruits.
It is true that on some occasions it may be convenient to supplement it, as we tell you in our article on supplements What are food supplements? Types and benefits.
However, we must be aware that with a good diet, without spending anything extraordinary, we can perfectly cover our needs for this vitamin.
Of course, for this we have to be aware of the importance of food, which has a strong impact on health. It is not only that it provides us with vitamin C, but also that all nutrients fulfill transcendental functions in our body, and are therefore essential for us to feel well.
Today, however, the undisputed protagonist is vitamin C, so let’s focus on this small molecule, which does so much for us.
Vitamin C What is it?
Well, it is a molecule that our cells are not capable of manufacturing, and that is essential to keep us alive. For this reason, yes or yes, it must be ingested, this means that it is defined as an essential nutrient, as are many other vitamins, for example vitamin D , A, E, B12, B9…
Molecularly, vitamin C corresponds to an organic acid, crystalline, soluble in water and colorless, but very easily recognizable by its characteristic acid taste . Its chemical name? Ascorbic acid.
However, there are derivatives in the form of mineral salts, which fulfill very similar functions, and which are not acidic. The best known is calcium ascorbate, which is sold in tablets as a dietary supplement.
As vitamin C is soluble in water, it is very easily excreted with urine, and as we hardly store it, its intake must be daily, and for all its benefits, we better not forget it!
Properties and benefits of vitamin C
Vitamin C is involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in our body, and taking into account that millions of them take place every second… you can already get an idea of its importance, which is a lot.
In fact, if we do not consume it, we will suffer from scurvy, a disease that is characterized, among others, by the appearance of hemorrhages, and that is fatal. This disease was very common on the long transoceanic voyages of ancient sailors, as they could not take with them fresh vegetables, which are foods rich in vitamin C par excellence.
I’m not getting ahead of myself, I’ll talk about that right away, let’s now learn more about vitamin C and what it’s for :
It is essential for the immune system
If we talk about vitamin C and its benefits , this is probably its best known function. Having good levels of this vitamin is related, for example, to having fewer colds, and that these are milder and shorter.
If you want to delve into this, I leave you this scientific article from a University of New Zealand, by a researcher specialized in vitamin C, it is titled: Vimamine C and immunity.
It is necessary to make collagen and many other molecules.
Within vitamin C and its properties , we will now focus on collagen, since it is the most abundant protein in our body, being the majority component of many tissues: skin, bones, articular cartilage, tendons, blood vessels, the ocular cornea…
It is also important for other tissues, such as muscles or dentin (the tissue inside the tooth). Without vitamin C, there is simply no collagen, so all these tissues would degenerate until they are destroyed and cause a wide variety of symptoms. Among them, the hemorrhages that, as we already mentioned, occur in scurvy.
Promotes wound healing and regeneration
Closely related to the previous function, but we must take into account that, also by other mechanisms, it favors the regeneration of various tissues.
What fabrics? Well, among them the skin, bones, tendons, blood vessels, cartilage… For all these reasons, vitamin C has been shown to be useful in the prevention of some pathologies such as osteoarthritis and also those related to the functioning of our arteries.
The latter leads to a reduction in cardiovascular risk, and I remind you that the main cause of death in Western countries is precisely cardiovascular disease.
It has a powerful antioxidant activity
Antioxidant substances protect our tissues from oxidant radicals produced both by metabolism and by pollution. The more oxidation, the more the tissues are damaged.
This protective function has led to vitamin C being associated with a reduction in some manifestations of skin aging, but also with improvements in various pathologies. Among them: cataracts, arthritis, diabetes , gout, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and even some tumors.
It is key in the absorption of iron
So much so that the lack of this vitamin can favor iron deficiency anemia, which leads to a decrease in red blood cells (RBC). Consequences? Tiredness, breathing difficulties, paleness, low concentration capacity, headaches, palpitations, irritability, wounds in the mouth…
As you can see, both vitamin C and iron are essential, and I remind you that the latter is especially abundant in molluscs such as mussels, meat and oily fish such as tuna.
Vitamin C for the face
In recent years, vitamin C creams for the face have become very popular, and it is not surprising, because for all the functions that we have seen, it is a very interesting active ingredient.
It is known that, in addition to its role on skin collagen (firmness, elasticity…), vitamin C for the face gives light and provides photoprotection against the sun, which helps reduce the effects of aging.
Foods with vitamin C
Among the foods rich in vitamin C , the best known are undoubtedly oranges, tangerines and citrus fruits in general, but there are many more. Some are vegetables, such as collard greens or cabbage, which have a lot of vitamin C but that we usually consume after cooking them, which means that a good part of this vitamin is lost. That is why it is better to consume them with short cooking times.
That is why fruits with vitamin C are a very good option, since they are normally consumed raw, which is why a serving of one of them should be consumed daily. Here is the list of foods with vitamin C in relevant amounts:
- Brussels sprouts
If we take into account that approximately 30% of the Spanish population does not ingest the recommended amounts of vitamin C, we will see the importance of knowing all these foods that contain vitamin C.
I also take the opportunity to leave you here a very interesting article on how some colors are associated with the presence of one or another nutrient.
This way you will discover many other foods rich in vitamins, because they are all important: Fruits and vegetables: colors associated with nutrients
excess vitamin C
Since vitamin C is easily excreted in the urine, excessive doses do not cause intoxication problems . It is true that some people may have difficulty absorbing large amounts, which could lead to diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.
If the excess consumption of vitamin C occurs in the long term, it can favor calcium oxalate kidney stones , especially in predisposed people.
Finally, with very high doses, it has been seen that alterations occur and it would act as an oxidant, therefore damaging the tissues. In any case, these are not doses that can be achieved with food or with available supplements.
On the other hand, without failing to take it in excessive amounts, taking vitamin C supplements can interact with some antipsychotic, antiviral and anticoagulant drugs such as Warfarin, although the truth is that in the latter case the studies show contradictory results, so There is possibly a large individual variability.
As you can see, the risks of its excess are very few, and yet the advantages of meeting your needs will affect everything: your defenses, joints, heart health, skin, vitality… So, don’t forget your daily ration.