Vitamin C: A Mighty Important Nutrient
Although most animals can make vitamin C from scratch, humans must obtain vitamin C from foods and supplements. Vitamin C has a role in several physiological functions and metabolic processes. Vitamin C is probably best known for its effects against oxidation and its role in maintaining proper immune function.
In May of 2004, the American Journal of Public Health reported that close to 23% of Americans have marginally low or low vitamin C in their blood. The report goes on to say that many of the fruits and vegetables we eat today consist of very low levels of vitamin C and that overcooking those foods further decreases the vitamin C content.
Vitamin C is the first line of protection in the body. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it has the ability to work both inside and outside the cells protecting against damaging free radicals. As an oxidation fighter, vitamin C decrease oxidants throughout the body. Also, vitamin C compliments another famous oxidation exterminator the powerful vitamin E, which works in the lipid (fatty) parts of the body.
Many different immune-enhancing effects have been demonstrated using vitamin C. Vitamin C appears to enhance T-lymphocyte activity (a lymph cell that orchestrates the immune system's response to infected cells) and increase phagocyte functions (cells that engulf and gobble up invading microorganisms).
Another primary function is vitamin C's ability to manufacture collagen, a key protein in connective tissues, cartilage and tendons. When inside cells, vitamin C hydroxylates (adds hydrogen and oxygen) to two amino acids: proline and lysine. This helps form a precursor molecule called procollagen that is later packaged and modified into collagen outside of the cell.
Cardiovascular Health and Vitamin C
When it comes to the heart and cardiovascular system, vitamin C has shown some very promising effects in supporting the health of this vital system. In addition, this vitamin strengthens the collagen structures of the arteries, and many studies have shown that vitamin C has positively supports normal cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
History of Vitamin C
Centuries before the isolation and understanding of vitamins, vitamin C deficiency or scurvy was evident in scourge of sailors that took voyages of many weeks with fresh fruits and vegetables. Scurvy symptoms include non-healing wounds, bleeding gums, bruising and overall weakness.
However, it was not until 1747 that James Lind, a Scottish physician, demonstrated that scurvy could be prevented by the consumption of citrus fruit. This led to the inclusion of certain fresh foods and fruits in sailors' diets.
In 1928, Hungarian Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, isolated what he would call "anti-scorbutic principle" (or ascorbic acid) from lemon juice. This, of course, was vitamin C.
Vitamin C and Linus Pauling
Two-time Nobel prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling was the first to realize vitamin C's crucial role in maintaining health, particularly the value in protecting our body's immune system. In 1970 he wrote the book Vitamin C and the Common Cold, which became a bestseller and brought wide public attention while creating a huge and continuously increasing demand for this micronutrient.
Later in his career, Pauling in association with Matthis Rath, M.D., began to research vitamin C, L-lysine and L-proline as crucial agents in supporting cardiovascular health. Their understanding of vitamin C's role as a collagen manufacturer lead to their theory that when there is a vitamin C deficiency in our body, collagen production is limited, and blood vessels tend to become thinner and weaker from wear and tear. Plaque deposits then form to compensate for this weakness. In addition, their theory went on further that when adding amino acids, lysine and proline, to one's diet, had an added effect in supporting healthy arteries.
For more information on Pauling and heart health, visit on page on our Heart Plus product which contains vitamin C, l-lysine and l-proline.
Citrus Bioflavonoids Give Added Benefit to Vitamin C
Bioflavonoids are a class of water-soluble plant pigments that are often found in vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits. A type of flavonoid (which gives color to flowers and fruit), bioflavonoids may not be essential to life, however, it is likely we need them for optimal health. Similar to vitamin C, bioflavonoids are oxidation fighters that bolster the immune system. In combination with vitamin C, these nutrients also increase blood flow and help support healthy cholesterol levels .
Vitamin C as Ascorbic Acid
Our Vitamin C is in the ascorbic acid form. We have used this form for a couple of reasons. One, we have found that the ascorbic acid level is minimal compared to the acidity of our stomach and therefore most people are not sensitive to this form. Second, ascorbate is much more expensive ingredient than the acidic form. We found that ascorbic acid form is both beneficial and cost-effective for our members.
Adverse effects of vitamin C are dose-related. Over 2000 mg per day may cause diarrhea and gastrointestinal upset.