Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid

What is the function of vitamin C? First of all, vitamin C has an antioxidant effect, meaning it protects cells against the damaging effects of free radicals and thus reduces the risk of developing cancer. Also, vitamin C restores vitamin E reserves and increases the absorption of iron. In addition to this, it prevents cardiovascular disease, helps wounds heal and reduces cholesterol levels in the blood. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system, enabling it to better deal with colds and flue.
vitamin C
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms: poor wound healing, bleeding gums, frequent colds and recurrent infections, fatigue, nose bleeding, weakened immune system, rough, dry skin.

4 Replies to “Vitamin C: Ascorbic Acid”

  1. The ascorbic acid you buy at the grocery store every few weeks, thinking you are buying Vitamin C, is just a chemical copy of naturally occurring ascorbic acid, which itself is still only a fraction of the actual Vitamin C. Real vitamin C is part of something living, and as such, can impart life.

    • Yes, you are right. There is more to vitamin C than just ascorbic acid and most of the supplements we purchase at the pharmacy are synthetic. However, they are meant to reproduce the same effects real vitamin C has in our body. But, as their name suggests (‘food supplements’), they are meant to merely cover the missing percentage of your daily intake. The best thing we can do is eat natural, organic fruits and vegetables rich in the real vitamin C, but this is not always possible either because we don’t have access to a variety of foods rich in vitamin C that are also organic, or because our lifestyle makes us prone to numerous nutrient deficiencies as a result of poor diet and so on. Many people also don’t tolerate certain foods well, so they are missing out on their vitamin C and other nutrients. Bell peppers, for example, are really hard to digest and many people avoid them. The same goes for pineapple, while strawberries are a common allergen. Plus, think about this: people with a severe vitamin C deficiency causing scurvy are not given kiwifruit, oranges or broccoli when they are in hospital, but high doses of synthetic forms of vitamin C. And they do their job. Taking the real thing is always best, I agree with you, but, you may also need to supplement your diet with synthetical vitamers of vitamin C which replicate its exact functions in our body. As one who takes ascorbic acid daily, despite of having a varied, overall natural diet, I must say that not only is it doing me a lot of good, but I now realize that I needed the supplementation. Thank you for your excellently educated intervention.

    • Hi, James. According to the National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference of the United Stated Department of Agriculture, 100 g of kiwifruit has 92.7 mg of vitamin C. One kiwifruit has about 64 mg of vitamin C because it weighs only 69 g. Of course, vitamin C content may vary from fruit to fruit, some fruits having more and others less. But kiwifruit does not contain that much of the vitamin.

      Fruits with a high content of vitamin C are:
      1) Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) at 2300-3150 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      Record vitamin C content of kakadu plum: 5300 mg/100 g
      2) Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia): 1880-2280 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      3) Acerola cherry (Malpighia emarginata) 1667 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      4) Rose hip: 426 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      5) Common guava (Psidium guajava): 228.3 mg of vitamin C/100 g

      Compare to other common vitamin C rich foods:
      1) Red sweet peppers (bell peppers): 127.7 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      2) Yellow sweet peppers: 183.5 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      3) Green sweet peppers: 80.4 mg of vitamin C/100 g|
      4) Kiwifruit: 92.7 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      5) Oranges (considered with peel): 71 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      6) Orange juice, raw: 50 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      7) Florida oranges: 41 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      8) Navel oranges: 59 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      9) Strawberries: 58 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      10) Papaya: 60.9 mg of vitamin C/100 g
      11) Lemons: 53 mg of vitamin C/100 g

      It’s also important to remember that vitamin C is extremely sensitive and exposure to heat, air, light can result in a significant decrease in the content of vitamin C in foods.
      Cooking heat causes a total loss of vitamin C content, hence the importance of eating raw fruits to get vitamin C. Juicing is also problematic because it extracts the vitamin and makes it more vulnerable to oxidation, hence the requirement to drink the juice you make fresh and as soon as possible. The longer it’s left to stay, the more vitamin C it loses. Fruits that are too ripe (so more sweet, less sour) also typically have a lower vitamin C content.

      And yes, you are right, a high intake of vitamin C from fruits or supplements does help with the common cold in the sense that it can reduce the severity of symptoms, strengthen the immune system and hurry healing. In my experience, it helps to get a lot of vitamin C every day, not just when you have a cold. Over 1000 mg a day (1 g of ascorbic acid) is great and can help reduce the frequency and severity of colds, flu and other respiratory infections. Pairing it with zinc further boosts immunity. Hope this helps.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.