What Does Vitamin C Do?
What Does Vitamin C Do?You’ve probably been told that vitamin C boosts your immune system (true). You may even have been told that vitamin C cures the common cold (false). Did you know that vitamin C may help an anemic? Or that it is so chemically similar to sugar that the confusion can cause problems for your immune system? Read on and find out the truth about vitamin C.
Vitamin C 101First, what is vitamin C? It's is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be eaten because your body cannot make it--the human body, that is. Several animals can make ascorbic acid, but not humans, guinea pigs or bats. We must take it. It was one of the first essential nutrients to get identified, thanks to a widespread health problem in a specific population. Millions of sailors died from scurvy-- more than shipwrecks, storms or pirate encounters-- simply because they did not have access to fresh fruits and vegetables while at sea. They finally staved off the disease by eating limes (hence “limey,” slang for a British person), but not without further difficulty--limes have about half as much vitamin C as lemons, and when they would boil it into a tea the delicate vitamin got inactivated. The, well-documented, symptoms of scurvy provided some insight into the function of vitamin C. The diseased would first develop extreme lethargy, experience mental confusion, bruise easily, and ultimately bleed from lesions as well as their gums until dying quite painfully. Vitamin C, it turned out, is essential for blood vessels (epithelial tissue), for the immune system, and for the reduction of uric acid in the bloodstream (an overabundance of uric acid causes gout, a devastating inflammatory condition). Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:
- Mental fog
- Frequent illness
- Wounds not healing, or not healing well
- Easily bruising
- Gingivitis (bleeding gums)