Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin present in a wide variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. It posses antioxidant properties, as well as it is good for maintaining healthy skin. Due to its antioxidant properties, it helps support the body’s natural immune function. Along with that it is needed for collagen production, connective tissue, bones, teeth, and blood vessels.
Vitamin C is not produced or stored by the human body. As a result, it’s critical to take enough of it regularly in the right amounts.
Role of vitamin C in the body :
All bodily tissues require it for growth, development, and repair. It’s engaged in a variety of biological processes, including collagen production, iron absorption, immune system function, wound healing, cartilage, bone, and tooth preservation. Vitamin C is one of several antioxidants that can protect you from free radicals, hazardous chemicals, and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can accumulate in the body and lead to the development of diseases including cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Recent research has shown that vitamin C posses the following health benefits :
- Common Colds: Vitamin C isn’t a treatment for the common cold, but it has been shown in certain trials to help avoid more serious consequences. There’s evidence that taking vitamin C for cold and flu reduces the chance of getting more serious consequences like pneumonia and lung infections.
- Prevention against stroke. Despite contradicting evidence, one study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that individuals with high levels of vitamin C in their blood had a 42 percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest levels. The reasons for this aren’t entirely obvious. What is certain, however, is that persons who consume a lot of fruits and vegetables have greater vitamin C levels in their blood.
- It supports the body’s natural immune function. Interferon synthesis is promoted by vitamin C. When the presence of pathogens is recognized, interferons are generated. They make it easier for cells to activate defensive cellular defenses. Vitamin C aids the immune system’s cellular response. The activation of macrophages, natural killer cells, and antigen-specific T-lymphocytes, which fight anything seen as a foreign agent, is referred to as the cell-mediated response. It also helps in boosting the production of T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes thus promoting stronger immunity. It also promotes the production of antibodies.
- In various studies, Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the development of cataracts and, when combined with other vital nutrients, can delay the course of age-related macular degeneration and vision loss.
- It helps to reduce and fight inflammation in the body.
- Some studies suggest it may help to lower the risk of developing cardiac diseases and also reduce the mortality rate in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
- Vitamin C helps to reduce the risk of certain cancers.
The link between Vitamin C and cancer :
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. It plays a role in reducing free-radical damage. It helps reduce oxidative stress and also inflammation in the body. Oxidative damage and inflammation are linked to an increased risk of developing malignancies and tumors.
High Vitamin C levels in the blood were linked to a reduced risk of gastrointestinal cancer, most likely due to its preventive actions against carcinogenic and toxic compounds in the diet.
Vitamin A, C, or E supplementation decreased the incidence of cervical cancer.
Vitamin C is used as an effective alternative medicine to treat cancer for a long time. Vitamin C generates hydrogen peroxide in the presence of metals. This chemical is a potent oxidant that is extremely harmful to cells, particularly cancer cells. Studies have also found that giving high doses of vitamin C has a positive effect on colorectal cancer cells. High doses of this vitamin also promote cell apoptosis i.e cancer cell death. Vitamin C causes oxidative stress in Cancer Stem Cells (CSCs) and inhibits a glycolysis-related enzyme. Without glycolysis, there is no pyruvate, which means the mitochondrial powerhouses are unable to create energy. As a result, the CSCs undergo starvation. As per a study, researchers used a combination of vitamin C and antibiotics as a way of promoting the death of cancer cells. Vitamin C may also involve DNA and inhibit cancer stem cell growth.
Clinical studies using vitamin C along with other cancer treatments have had mixed outcomes, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Patients said that their quality of life had improved in certain situations. Tumors have slowed their growth in other trials.
However, in certain trials, vitamin C and conventional cancer-therapy medicines interacted with one another, resulting in the treatment failing. At least in laboratory experiments, vitamin C has been proven to have the ability to kill cancer cells or modify the behavior of cancer stem cells. Taking intravenous or oral vitamin C doses during chemotherapy has also shown positive effects. Research suggests that it may improve the effects of chemotherapy and decrease the side effects caused by chemotherapy drugs. Patients who were given vitamin C showed less toxic effects of the therapy as compared to those who weren’t. Vitamin C caused cell death in ovarian cancer cells, as well as DNA damage while having no negative effect on healthy tissue.
Dietary sources of vitamin C :
Consuming vitamin C-rich foods can help prevent any deficiencies and also promote overall good health. Taking supplements is not necessary if the requirement of vitamin C is fulfilled using food sources. Below are some foods that are an excellent source of vitamin C :
- Bell peppers
- Mustard spinach
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts.
- Orange juice
- Amla (Indian gooseberry)