This vitamin is well known to all. Its name, ascorbic acid, means no scurvy acid, stemming from the discovery that citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and limes prevented death from scurvy during the long ocean voyages in which stores of fruit and vegetables were depleted well before the journey's end. *100 Vitamin C is water-soluble, and is thereby susceptible to leaching out of food during the cooking process. Less time in cooking and using less water will assist in preserving the vitamin content of the food. One must also be mindful to keep containers closed tightly when storing vitamin C products, such as orange juice, in the refrigerator. If lids are left open or not used at all, the vitamin C will oxidize away. There is an endless controversy regarding the benefits to be gained from megadose supplementation of this vitamin. Supplementation is a personal choice, but should never be a substitute for a healthy diet. In general, toxicity due to an overdose does not develop, because once the cells are saturated with the vitamin, the excess is excreted as waste. Megadosing on water-soluble vitamins could result in pretty expensive urine. Cigarette smoking interferes with the use of vitamin C in the body. Extra vitamin C can normalize blood levels but cannot protect against the damage caused by smoking. *101
VITAMIN C FUNCTIONS Vitamin C*102 is necessary for the formation of collagen, a protein substance used to build connective tissue in the body. Collagen provides the supporting structure for bones, teeth, skin and tendons. It is also necessary for strong artery walls. If lack of vitamin C leads to a weakening of these artery walls, a domino effect may be created, contributing to heart disease.
Vitamin C is related to the production of thyroxin, a hormone which regulates body temperature and metabolic rate.
It plays a role in combating the oxidation of iron and therefore is also necessary for the absorption of iron. It is advisable to use orange juice (or some other vitamin-C-containing fruit or juice) with cereal rather than milk for children or adults who may have iron-deficiency anemia. That will absorb the iron from the grains more efficiently.
Vitamin C guards against infection, thereby playing a role in immunity. Vitamin C is involved in the release of stress hormones.
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