Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Water-soluble vitamins are carried throughout the body in the bloodstream. They are, for the most part, not stored in the body. The body uses what it needs and the rest is passed in the urine.
is important to many body functions. It helps the body build and maintain collagen
; heal wounds and bruises; keep the immune system healthy; maintain healthy bones, teeth, gums, red blood cells
, and blood vessels; repair bone fractures. Vitamin C may also reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases by acting as an antioxidant
help the body fight the effects of free radicals
, which can damage the body's cells.
Causes and Development
Pregnancy, breastfeeding, gastrointestinal
diseases, and hyperthyroidism
increase the need for vitamin C
diseases, burns, and surgery can also increase a person's need for vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency is often caused by a diet that does not include enough fruits and vegetables, excess alcohol intake, smoking or stress.
It is unclear from studies whether physical activity increases a person's requirement for vitamin C. There is no substantial evidence that mental or emotional stress increases the need for vitamin C for healthy people.
Signs and Symptoms
Signs of vitamin C
deficiency include: inflamed
gums, reduced resistance to colds and infections, skin problems, slow wound healing, stomach disorders.
Severe deficiency of vitamin C can lead to scurvy
. However, severe deficiency and scurvy are rare in developed nations. Scurvy is a disease caused by a deficiency of vitamin C. It causes open sores in the mouth, loose teeth, and soft gums. In the 1700s, it was discovered that sailors who often drank lime juice did not get scurvy. Sailors who did not drink lime juice had a 50% chance of dying from scurvy. It was not until 200 years later that vitamin C was found to prevent scurvy.