Vitamin C is the best-known vitamin. It supports your immune system but is also indispensable for your energy level, radiant skin and so much more. How much does your body need from this multi-tasker, when is extra vitamin C intake necessary and what happens in case of a deficiency? Read below everything you need to know about this essential ingredient.
What is vitamin C?
This water-soluble vitamin is also known by the name of its natural form: L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is good for a lot of different things in your body. It will surprise you how diverse this nutrient is.
Did you know that: the name ascorbic acid is derived from a (not) and scorbutus (scurvy). In the eighteenth century it was discovered that a long-term deficiency of this vitamin was the cause of scurvy and citrus fruits and sauerkraut were taken on long sea voyages to prevent this.
What is vitamin C good for?
It is a real multi-tasker and is used in various parts of the body as a necessary nutrient.
Vitamin C is good for:
- The immune system
- Production of collagen (e.g. bones, blood vessels, skin, etc.).
- Reduction of fatigue
- Protection against oxidative stress
- Absorption of iron
This vitamin contributes to the immune system in everyday life, but especially after intensive physical efforts. After heavy physical exertion, a reduced resistance is not abnormal. The body then has to endure a lot of stress, consume a lot more nutrients at a fast pace and have to recover from this depletion. Extra vitamin C then helps maintain your resistance during and after intense physical exertion.
It is also responsible for the production of collagen, which is important for the blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gum and teeth. And last but not least, in this way it is also very important for the elasticity of the skin.
In addition, L-ascorbic acid helps reduce fatigue and the energy-yielding metabolism. It supports normal psychological function and the nervous system.
Perhaps the best known characteristic is that this essential nutrient is a very powerful antioxidant. This means that it protects body cells against oxidative stress and damage. In the same way, it is also able to convert reduced vitamin E back into its antioxidative form.
The vitamin also helps to increase the absorption of iron. This is an important mineral that many people are lacking. Iron is often present in food, but the absorption in the body is not always as good, vitamin C can help with that.
Vitamin C and nutrition. What is it in?
We cannot produce vitamin C ourselves, unlike some animals, and are therefore completely dependent on our dietary intake. Fortunately, you can find it in many foods. The best-known sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges, but it is also abundant in other fruits, vegetables (cabbage, peppers…) and potatoes.
However, it is necessary to be careful with different preparation processes to prevent the loss of this vitamin. Because this vitamin is water-soluble, vegetables lose a lot of vitamin C during cooking in water. When heated, this substance can also be lost. Don’t leave sliced pieces of fruit or vegetables standing too long, because airborne boiling can oxidise vitamin C on the surface.
How much vitamin C does your body need and what if there is a shortage?
For healthy adults, the reference intake (or recommended daily allowance) is 80 mg per day. Under normal circumstances, this is enough, but one often benefits from an extra supplement. Vitamin C is in fact a gift for your natural resistance. When you make intense physical efforts or are under a lot of stress, you consume a lot more vitamin C. Smokers also consume more of this substance.
You may find this nutrient in many foods, but it is important that you have a healthy and varied diet, such as different fruit and vegetables every day, if you want to absorb enough of this substance. In reality, this is not achievable for everyone.
A shortage can lead to reduced resistance, fatigue, joint complaints or a reduced skin condition such as poor wound healing, bruising…
Kan je teveel innemen?
Aangezien het wateroplosbaar is, kan je L-ascorbinezuur niet opslaan in je lichaam en plas je deze bij een teveel gewoon weer uit. Het feit dat je lichaam deze stof niet kan opslaan, maakt dat een dagelijkse inname van deze vitamine belangrijk is.
Toch kunnen er klachten ontstaan wanneer je een overdosis aan vitamine C binnen krijgt. Dit kan leiden tot spijsverteringsproblemen, doorgaans komt dit enkel voor bij erg hoge dosissen bijvoorbeeld meer dan 2000 mg in één inname. Nierpatiënten moeten ook opletten bij hoge innames van vitamine C. Het is belangrijk om steeds de juiste dosering te nemen zoals aanbevolen op de verpakking of door de behandelende gezondheidsexpert.