CAM Type: biologically based
Common Names: Ascorbic Acid
Introduction to Vitamin C:
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient essential for life, used by the human body for multiple purposes. It is an essential vitamin commonly found in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits. It is also found in strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, green and red bell peppers, tomatoes, rose hips, spinach and broccoli.
To the best of scientific knowledge, all animals and plants are capable of synthesizing their own vitamin C, except humans and a small number of other animals. Vitamin C was first isolated in 1928, and in 1932 proven to be the agent which prevents scurvy. Supplementation of Vitamin C has been shown to aid in immune system response, functioning of the nervous system, tissue growth and collagen production.
Immune system response, tissue growth, nervous system function, production of collagen
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin found to be in many sources of fruits and vegetables.
Pharmacology and Phytochemicals:
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a cofactor. Cofactors are the single most important set of components required to maintain fundamental processes throughout the body. Basic functions of the nervous system, such as neurotransmitter synthesis and healthy communication between cells, would be impossible without the presence of necessary mineral, vitamin and amino acid cofactors.
Mechanisms of Action:
The body cannot produce its own Vitamin C, so it must be replenished daily through the diet. Due to its nutritional value, Vitamin C is formulated along with other essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids to aid in balanced emotional and physical wellness.
The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C varies due to age, sex, and physical state. For infants up to 3 years old, 30mg to 40mg will suffice. From age 4 to 10 years, 45mg is the standard. For adolescents as well as both adult men and women, 50mg to 60mg is recommended. Pregnant women may require 70mg per day, and smokers 100mg per day.
Safety, Side Effects and Warnings:
Vitamin C is recognized as one of the least toxic substances to humans. However, some primary concerns exist for people consuming Vitamin C, depending on their circumstances. For those with unusual or unaddressed iron-overload conditions, including hemochromatosis, the condition may be worsened by regular Vitamin C usage, due to the vitamin’s iron absorption.
If the recommended amounts for consumption are exceeded, Vitamin C causes diarrhea in everyone, but this will subside as the usage is reduced, without any harmful effect.
Most of the harmful effects of Vitamin C consumption are a result of using higher-than-recommended amounts. Carcinogenic and teratogenic effects have been reported, but not substantiated on living organisms. As well, reports of a thickening of the arteries of the neck have been noted in persons taking excessive amounts of Vitamin C, and there is speculative increased risk of kidney stones as a side effect of high-level Vitamin C consumption.