Vitamin C - Requirements, Sources, Functions and Deficiency

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) plays an essential role in maintaining and supporting body organs and functions. It is naturally present in the form of ascorbic acid, a crystalline, white, odorless substance soluble in water.

Facts about Vitamin C

There are various vitamin c facts that are significant to learn and understand. Human body absorbs this vitamin from food sources and supplements and excretes the unused vitamin.

Highest content of Vitamin C is found in Indian gooseberry. Other foods having high content of Vitamin C are lemon and orange.

Vitamin C Absorption

Humans cannot synthesize their own ascorbic acid; rather they take it from dietary sources. Gut has an active transport system that absorbs Vitamin C. The vitamin is further reabsorbed by the kidney. This mechanism of absorption and re-absorption in the gut and kidney reaches a saturation point. Therefore, it is advisable not to take a single large dose of Vitamin C rather divide the doses and take through the day.

Function of Vitamin C

The key importance of Vitamin C is supporting the immune system and forming a structural component known as collagen. It is also required for synthesis of the neurotransmitter, required for brain function and mood change. Vitamin C aids in synthesis of a small molecule, carnitine. Carnitine is required for fat transportation to cellular organelles known as mitochondria, potentially, producing energy. Science and researches have also noticed Vitamin C cholesterol lowering potential. High cholesterol level aids in developing gallstones and various heart diseases. The amazing effects of linus pauling vitamin c and common cold were also encountered in 1973. This vitamin is believed to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of common cold.

Antioxidant Functions

Being a water soluble antioxidant, vitamin C, is able to hunt for aqueous peroxyl radicals and inhibits free radical chain reaction. Free radicals or peroxyl radicals have destructive effects on body lipids. It works in conjunction with a fat-soluble antioxidant, Vitamin E and glutathione peroxidase to slow down the harmful effects of free radicals.

Immune System

Vitamin C has the ability to enhance body's resistance to varied diseases. It aids in stimulating the action of antibodies and immune cells like phagocytes, resulting in a stronger immune system. Eating an apple or two every day is the best option for Vitamin C immune system boost.

Vitamin C and Cancer

Effects of Vitamin C have been proved beneficial for treating the symptoms of various types of cancer like cancers of the esophagus, mouth, stomach, colon and lung. The natural form of this vitamin has a co-factor known as bioflavonoid. Synthetic form and Vitamin C supplements are not effective in treating cancer. Natural and pure Vitamin C is believed to inhibit the production of carcinogenic compounds. Even a high dose of intravenous Vitamin C is beneficial for killing cancer cells.


Plethora of Vitamin C infusions and Vitamin C creams are popularly used for treating environmental aging, reversing damage, providing moisture and reducing wrinkles and restoring youthful clarity. Topical Vitamin C aids in neutralization of free radicals and protects skin against sun damage.

Forms of Vitamin C

Vitamin C supplementation is mainly can be in the form of Vitamin C injection, powdered Vitamin C, Chewable Vitamin C and Vitamin C tablets. Vitamin C complex and Lypo Spheric Vitamin C are best Vitamin C supplements. These supplements are available in the form of natural, buffered, synthetic and ester. Natural is always more effective than synthetic because of the presence of true vitamin in natural form. Buffered Vitamin C are basically mineral salts of Vitamin C and are less acidic whereas Vitamin C ester is the most advanced form that aids is faster absorption and longer retention of ascorbic acid.


Testing Vitamin C is determining the presence of Vitamin C in human body. The most popular methods of testing are intradermal test, capillary fragility test, lingual test and silver nitrate urine test.


If the level of Vitamin C intake is many times more than the recommended dietary allowances, it results in a deficiency disease known as scurvy. Lack of Vitamin C is characterized by signs of bruising, bleeding gums, swollen joints, anemia, fatigue, frequent infections and nosebleeds.