From a normal function of the immune system to the production of collagen for the skin: Vitamin C is used in the body for a lot of tasks. No wonder, then, that only a few people know about the complex vitamin C effect.
The general knowledge is usually only that we have to absorb the vitamin through food and that our immune system needs it in some way.
What exactly happens in the body during absorption and what the ascorbic acid, as vitamin C is also called, does in the organism is often unknown.
To change that, you will find in this article all the information about the versatile effect of vitamin C.
But before we dive into the effect in more detail: What is meant by vitamin C anyway? What processes do you need and how much should you take daily?
What do we need vitamin C for?
Pure ascorbic acid looks like crystalline colorless and odorless powder. Usually, however, you take them in such small doses that you do not get to see the vitamin C as such.
In men, around 110 milligrams,in women 95 milligramsare enough to cover the daily requirement of vitamin C. This sounds like a very small amount at first, but if you look at the vitamin C content in food, it quickly becomes clear: You should be careful to include fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C in your diet.
A medium-sized orange has about a comparatively high amount of vitamin C and comes to only ~80 mg of ascorbic acid. So not enough for the daily requirement.
Although certain other foods have significantly more of the nutrient, a one-sided diet can lead to an undersupply and thus a vitamin C deficiency.
Especially in the long run, this becomes a problem, because vitamin C is part of a number of vital processes in our organism:
- Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and helps protect cells from oxidative stress caused by free radicals
- Among other things, our immune system needs vitamin C to function normally
- Ascorbic acid supports iron metabolism
- Vitamin C is needed to create connective tissue for skin and bones
How the recording works
Ascorbic acid,more specifically L-ascorbic acid,as the organic form of vitamin C is called in chemistry, is mainly found in fruits and vegetables.
Through an orange, for example, we usually get to the vitamin through the edible pulp or the juice. Fun fact on the side: The peel of an orange even has more vitamin C than the fruit itself, but usually ends up in the garbage.
Let’s look at what exactly happens during the intake of ascorbic acid through the diet.
How do we absorb vitamin C?
After chewing, the orange first enters the stomach and then the wider digestive tract. Especially in the small intestine, the ascorbic acid then enters the metabolism via the membranes of the intestinal wall.
After that, the ascorbic acid comes into the blood plasma, as well as into the internal organs. Especially in the adrenal cortex and liver, vitamin C is stored, although these stores are relatively limited at about 3 grams. Thus, we are dependent on continuously absorbing vitamin C from the diet.
At the cellular level, the ascorbic acid then unfolds its full effect.
The effect explained: This happens in the body
In the body, vitamin C acts as an important antioxidant. These are substances that release electrons to particularly reactive oxygen atoms (free radicals) at the molecular level and thus prevent chain reactions that are harmful to us.
These antioxidant properties are also why our immune system needs vitamin C to function. Here, the substance plays an important role both in the production of antibodies and in the cellular immune defense.
In addition, vitamin C is also involved in various detoxification reactions due to its action as a radical scavenger.
But that’s not all: As mentioned above, we also need vitamin C for the production of connective tissue. More specifically, ascorbic acid is used as a cofactor in the biosynthesis of collagen. Collagen is an important structural protein that helps in the formation of new tissue throughout the body.
Due to this effect, a lack of vitamin C can lead to disorders in wound healing.
In addition to the biosynthesis of collagen, vitamin C is also involved in the formation of folic acid, amino acids and steroids.
As for iron metabolism, vitamin C can weaken the effect of phytates and tannins. These substances, which we consume from soy and cereal products as well as tea and coffee, inhibit the absorption of iron in the body. Vitamin C counteracts this and can thus boost iron metabolism.
As you can see, the tasks of vitamin C are extremely diverse. Scientifically, not all relationships around the effect of vitamin C have yet been fully clarified.
As a result, some of the effects of the vitamin are controversial.
Is the effect of vitamin C really controversial?
Meeting the vitamin C requirement is considered a synonym for health, especially in Europe. But is that really always true?
Especially in the flu season, for example, there are more and more advertisements calling for the treatment of colds with vitamin C.
Whether this brings anything is actually controversial: The effect of ascorbic acid against flu-like infections has not been scientifically proven.
The vitamin is important for our immune system to function normally at all. In the case of an existing flu infection, however, the effect of treatment with vitamin C is questionable.
In addition, therapies with so-called megadoses of several thousand milligrams of vitamin C per day are repeatedly advertised, which are intended to help prevent a variety of diseases and even fight cancer.
However, a health benefit of such high doses with blanket use has not been scientifically confirmed.
Under certain circumstances, treatment with extremely high doses of vitamins may make sense, but this should always be ordered by a doctor.
The topic of vitamin C is therefore quite controversial.
Despite all this, however, there is no question that ascorbic acid is a vital nutrient for us humans, without which numerous processes in our body would not function.
In order to be completely healthy, it is therefore essential to cover the body’s own vitamin requirements.