What is Vitamin C?
Vitamins are organic molecules, essential micronutrients which organisms (aka our bodies) need in small quantities for the proper functioning of its metabolism. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables. However it is also available in the form of a supplement.
Why Do People Need Vitamin C?
Unlike other equally important vitamins, Vitamin C is not stored in our bodies, thus making it important to maintain adequate levels in order to ensure proper bodily function. Vitamin C is required for the body to adequately perform various different functions such as; boosting the immune system, healing wounds, producing collagen, absorbing iron and acting as an antioxidant to protect against reactive oxidative species (ROS). ROS are reactive oxidative species also known as free radicals. These molecules can lead to oxidative stress which, in turn, lead to cell damage. Its antioxidative properties can also help reduce inflammation. Collagen is also an important structural protein in our bodies created with Vitamin C. Collagen is a main component in connective tissue such as; cartilage, ligaments and tendons making up to about 2% of muscle tissue. Low levels of Vitamin C can lead to the condition of scurvy. The benefits of Vitamin C include;
- May aid in cardiovascular health
- Fight cataracts and slow progression of macular degeneration.
- Aid in controlling glucose levels/ diabetes.
- Helps fight anemia by promoting the absorption of Iron.
- May aid in fighting asthma
- May aid in cancer prevention
Where Does Vitamin C Come From?
The best sources of Vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. However, the Vitamin C from most (if not nearly all) supplements today come from synthetic sources. Disappointed? Yeah, us too. This is mainly due to the popularised view of vitamins being presented as natural, whereas drugs are considered artificial. When in reality both of these products are likely coming out of labs. There are 6 different types of nutrients used when supplements are being created.
1. Natural Source
These supplements include nutrients from vegetable, mineral or animal resources. Before being marked into a supplement bottle though these nutrients undergo significant processing and refinement. It is also worth noting that even though a supplement might be marked as natural it only has to actually include 10% of actually natural plant-derived ingredients while the remaining 90% could be of synthetic origin.
2. Nature Identical (Synthetic)
This type of nutrient is completely manufactured in a lab mimicking the molecular structure to the same nutrients occurring in nature, creating an identical copy. Several manufacturers prefer this process due to the cost and scarcity of the natural resource. As such, much of the standard vitamin supplements on the market today are this type.
These nutrients are manufactured in a lab, not only are they completely synthetic but they are also a different shape to the original version of the nutrient in terms of chemical constituency.
4. Bacterial Fermentation
Bacteria natural or modified can produce a nutrient by-product
5. Food Based
These supplements are made by creating reactions enzymatically between synthetic and natural vitamins to then make them into a supplement. Most manufacturers don't use concentrates or extracts taken from whole food sources because of low nutrient potency and limited shelf life.
6. Food Cultured
These nutrient supplements are usually grown in yeast or algae. The same process is involved in culturing Miso, yogurt and kefir. The idea is that by feeding the yeast and algae with the raw materials i.e. nutrients and minerals, they concentrate within their cells. This way the nutrient content will be concentrated in the algae and yeast at the time of harvest, becoming a nutrient supplement.
Good Sources of Vitamin C
Usually people consume enough amounts of vitamin C through a regular consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables in their diets.
Natural Sources of Vitamins C
It is worth mentioning that the heat involved in cooking may destroy some of the vitamin content in food so eating these foodstuffs raw could be the best way to ensure your Vitamin C requirements are fulfilled.
Vitamin C Supplements
An alternative to this of course is supplementing your diet with Vitamin C powder or tablets. People use Vitamin C supplements to boost immunity, seeing as vitamin C is largely involved in the immune system's main functions. It helps encourage the production of white blood cells known as lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help protect the body against infection. Whilst also being essential in the creation of collagen and connective tissues and helping to reduce the length and severity of illness.
- Vitamin C Powder
- Vitamin C Tablets
- Chewable Tablets
- Effervescent Powders & Tablets
Unfortunately not all Vitamin C supplements are created equal. To better ensure quality and safety. Be sure to pick supplements that have been tested and approved by an independent certifying body or is recommended by your GP. Vitamin C cannot be stored in our bodies so it is best we make sure our daily intakes of this essential Vitamin meet the minimum requirements.