Monday, October 16, 2006

Why Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a vital nutrient. Without it, sailors up until the 18th century in the British navy suffered from scurvy. Why? Vitamin C is responsible for the formation of collagen, which makes up the structure of connective tissues. Without collagen, tissues begin to break down, and the gums start to bleed. When the navy started to bring limes and other citrus fruits on their voyages, scurvy disappeared as a major cause of death.

It is also useful as an antioxidant, protecting the body from free radical damage. Eating large amounts of vitamin C hasn't been found to be that helpful, but it is not too dangerous since vitamin C is water soluble so it passes through the body easily. Birth control pills and aspirin have been found to lower levels of vitamin C though so more might need to be taken when on those medications.

Food Sources

Drink orange juice or eat oranges (70-75 mg) or strawberries (82 mg) for your daily dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin supplements are also a good source. The Linus Pauling Institute recommends a daily minimum dose of 400 mg for young, healthy adults. Linus Pauling was well known for advising large doses of vitamin C to combat the common cold, but little evidence for its efficacy has been established.