Vitamin C at-a-Glance

Vitamin C also known as L-ascorbic acid, ascorbic acid, or L-ascorbate, is an essential component of

immune cell function, it has potent anti-inflammatory effects and at high doses even works as an anti-

viral [1].


Vitamin C infusions are not approved as a standard treatment, however vitamin C has been recognized as

playing a critical role in numerous immune system mechanisms [1]. The role of vitamin C as an

antioxidant also helps repair tissue and reduces damage from inflammation and oxidation [2]. 


Vitamin C is categorised as an organic compound. An organic compound is one that exists in living

things and contains the elements carbon and oxygen [2]. 


Vitamin C is water soluble, and the body does not store it [6]. To maintain adequate levels of vitamin C,

humans need a daily intake of food that contains it. It occurs naturally in some foods, especially, fruit and

vegetables, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, and potatoes [5]. Supplements are also available.


Benefits of Vitamin C


Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of bodily functions including the production of collagen,

L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. Collagen is the main component of connective tissue and the

most abundant protein in mammals. Between 1 and 2% of muscle tissue is collagen [4]. It is a vital

component in fibrous tissues such as:


  • Tendons

  • Ligaments

  • Skin

  • Cornea

  • Cartilage

  • Bones

  • The gut

  • Blood vessels [4]


People with adequate levels of vitamin C are thought to be better able to fight off infections compared to

people with vitamin C deficiency. It may also help prevent acute respiratory infections, especially in

people with malnutrition and those who are physically stressed [5]. It is also known to cure the common

cold symptoms faster in those who consume Vitamin C daily and helps give a constant glow to the

skin[6] .


Vitamin C may help in treating cancer. It helps metabolize proteins and its antioxidant activity may

reduce the risk of some cancers. Oxidation reactions produce free radicals. Free radicals can start chain

reactions that damage cells [5]. As an antioxidant, it protects the body against oxidative stress and helps

prevent the oxidation of other molecules. It appears to regenerate other antioxidants in the body, too. It

also promotes the increase of B and T lymphocytes and antibody production [6].


More studies are needed to understand which cancers could be affected by vitamin C and which other

effective treatments can be used in conjunction with vitamin C, as well as the long-term effects of this

approach. However, The National Cancer Institute report several studies that used high dose vitamin C

intravenously with few side effects and found to reduce the speed of growth of some types of cancerous

tissue [5]. Researchers have proposed using vitamin C in cancer patients whose treatment options are

limited. 


Other benefits of Vitamin C may include the following: 


  • Cardiovascular health: Vitamin C may widen the blood vessels, and this could help protect against heart disease and hypertension, or high blood pressure.

  • Cholesterol levels: These were found to be lower in individuals with adequate levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C lowers the risk of Cataracts as well as of age-related Macular degeneration.

  • Diabetes: Patients are less likely to experience deterioration of the kidneys, eyes, and nerves if they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C.

  • Anaemia: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. Lead levels may be reduced if there is an adequate intake of vitamin C.

  • Histamine is a substance the immune system produces, resulting in inflammation and other problems. Vitamin C can help reduce the accumulation of histamine in the body.

Additionally, emerging data has shown that high doses of Vitamin C in COVID-19 patients has

promoted speediness in healing and has saved lives for those who have been able to have it as part

of their COVID treatment ongoing [7].


Vitamin C deficiency


Severe vitamin C deficiency is also known to increase the risk for, pneumonia and other infections. For

example scurvy results from vitamin C deficiency [7]. Its symptoms include swollen joints, bleeding

gums and loose teeth, anaemia, and tiredness.  People with low vitamin C, for example, due to smoking,

chronic immune related diseases or older age, may find supplements beneficial [7]. 

Things to remember

Though Vitamin c is one of the leading vitamins of our century, overdose of anything is bad. I am a

qualified nurse, not a medical doctor, so always seek medical or professional advice before consumption

or application of Vitamin C especially in very high doses.


References


1. https://www.cihs.edu/single-post/2020/03/20/COVID-19-Prevention-and-Treatment-Vitamin-C

2. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/glucose-6-phosphate-dehydrogenase-deficiency

3. JAMA 2019 Oct 1; 322(13): 1261–1270.

4. Erickson SE, Martin GS, Davis JL, Matthay MA, Eisner MD; NIH NHLBI ARDS

Network. Recent trends in acute lung injury mortality: 1996-2005. Crit-Care Med. 2009; 37(5):

1574-1579. doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e31819fefdf.

5. Truwit JD, Bernard GR, Steingrub J, et al.; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute ARDS

Clinical Trials Network. Rosuvastatin for sepsis-associated acute respiratory distress syndrome. 

N Engl J Med. 2014; 370(23):2191-2200. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1401520.

6. Fisher BJ, Seropian IM, Kraskauskas D, et al. Ascorbic acid attenuates lipopolysaccharide-

induced acute lung injury. Crit Care Med. 2011; 39(6):1454-1460.

doi:10.1097/CCM.0b013e3182120cb8.

7. Mohammed BM, Fisher BJ, Kraskauskas D, et al. Vitamin C: a novel regulator of neutrophil

extracellular trap formation. Nutrients. 2013; 5(8):3131-3151. doi:10.3390/nu508313.

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