Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

What are the functions of ascorbic acid?
Vitamin C helps hold body cells together, aids in wound healing, assists in bone and tooth formation, strengthens the blood vessel walls, is vital for the function of the immune system, and improves absorption and utilization of iron. It also helps prevent nutritional ailments such as scurvy. Vitamin C also serves as an antioxidant. It works with vitamin E as a free-radical scavenger and protects against certain infections.

What are the sources of vitamin C?
Citrus fruits, berries (eg cranberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), melons, green and red peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli are good sources of vitamin C.

How much ascorbic acid do you need?

Age/Life Stage

Males(mg/d)

Females(mg/d)

Children

 

1-3 years

40

40

4-6 years

40

40

7-9 years

40

40

Adolescents

10-12 years

40

40

13-15 years

40

40

16-17 years

40

40

Adult sedentary

40

40

Pregnancy

NA

60

Lactation

NA

80

(ICMR, 2010)

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin thus it dissolves in water and is not stored,which means we need a continuous supply of Vitamin C in our diets.
Vitamin C deficiency results in bleeding gums; slow wound healing, dry, rough skin; sore joints and bones and increased infections. Scurvy is a disease resulting from a deficiency of vitamin C.Scurvy often presents itself initially as symptoms of malaise and lethargy, followed by formation of spots on the skin, spongy gums, and bleeding from the mucous membranes. Spots are most abundant on the thighs and legs, and a person with the ailment looks pale, feels depressed. As scurvy advances, there can be open wounds, loss of teeth, jaundice, fever, neuropathy and death.

Tips for serving a meal rich in vitamin C:

  • It is the most unstable vitamin – under heat, light and oxygen – so be very careful during storage and cooking
  • Add a little lemon juice or vinegar to slow down vitamin C loss