Vitamin C (Asorbic Acid) Information

Vitamin C vitamins include both L-ascorbic acid (ascorbic acid) and L-dehydroascorbic acid. However, ascorbic acid is the primary dietary form of vitamin C. In most contexts vitamin C, ascorbic acid, and ascorbate are used interchangeably.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for humans. However, unlike humans, most other animals and advanced plant species can synthesize vitamin C from other dietary sugars, especially glucose. All animals, including humans, which require vitamin C lack the necessary enzyme L-gulano-gamma-lactone oxidase that is required to synthesize vitamin C from glucose.

The major result of vitamin C deficiency is scurvy. The symptoms of scurvy include bleeding gums, petechiae, ecchymosis, follicular, coiled hairs, hermorrhages, impaired ability to heal from wounds, dry eyes and mouth, joint effusions, muscle weakness, myalgia, fatigue, anemia, anorexia, depression, and kidney disorders. Most of the body's systems and organs are affected by scurvy.

Vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of connective tissues, including Collagen the glue that strengthens many parts of the body, including muscles, blood vessels and internal organs. When vitamin C is absent, collagen cannot be properly synthesized, resulting in a collagen like substance with irregular fibrous structure and blood-vessel fragility. This phenomenon explains many of the symptoms of scurvy, especially those relating to connective tissues.

Vitamin C is required to synthesize other important connective-tissues including bone, elastin, fibronectin, and fibrillin. It also helps to regulate the body's ability absorb, transport, and store iron. However, vitamin C is best known for its antioxidant effects.

Dosage and Administration

Typical doses of vitamin C range from 500 milligrams to 2 grams per day. However, many people increase their dosage to 4 to 5 grams a day when coming down with cold to produce an antihistaminic effect.

Supporting Literature

Antunes LMG, Darin JDC, Bianchi MDLP. Protective effects of vitamin C against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity and lipid peroxidation in adult rats: a dose-dependent study. Pharmacol Res. 2000; 41:405-410.
Balz F. Antioxidant vitamins and heart disease. An excerp from the 60th Annual Biology Colloquium, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, February 25, 1999.
Carr A, Frei B. Does vitamin C act as a pro-oxidant under physiological conditions. FASEBJ. 1999; 13:1007-1020.
Hwang J, Peterson H, Hodis HN, et al. Ascorbic acid enhances 17 beta-estradiol-mediated inhibition of oxidized low density lipoprotein formation. Atherosclerosis. 2000; 150:275-283.