What is it?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, which is essential for normal functioning of the body. Unlike most mammals, humans do not have the ability to make their own vitamin C and, therefore, must obtain it through their diet.
Functions – what does it do?
Collagen. Vitamin C is required for the production of collagen, an important structural component of blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, and bone. Deficiency, therefore, leads to poor healing of wounds, fractures, pinpoint bleeding, and bleeding gums.
Antioxidant. Vitamin C is also a highly effective antioxidant. Antioxidants such as vitamin C act to protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging compounds produced as by-products of normal metabolism, as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g. smoking). Free radicals can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancers, and other diseases.
Vitamin C may also be able to reactivate other antioxidants such as vitamin E so that it can be resused.
Enhanced iron absorption. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption from non-haeme sources, which is found primarily in fruits, vegetables, dried beans, nuts and grain products. Therefore, increasing vitamin C-rich foods can be beneficial to those with poor iron stores.
Immune system. Vitamin C is vital for the fucntion of the immune system and promotes resistance to infection. – Information from The University of Stellenbosch (http://www.sun.ac.za/english/faculty/healthsciences/nicus/how-to-eat-correctly/nutrients/vitamins/vitamin-c)
Please note – High doses of vitamin C can lead to gastrointestinal disturbances including diarrhoea, and iron toxicity, caused by iron overabsorption.