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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Antioxidants >>  Vitamin C Antioxidant

Vitamin C Antioxidant

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It helps in maintaining the health of the collagen in the skin. Collagen is a type of fibrous protein that supports and connects the skin, tendons, cartilage, muscles and bones of the body. The internal organs are also supported by collagen. Vitamin C also aids in repair of damaged tissue, strengthens the bones and teeth and enhances the immune system.

Vitamin C, an antioxidant, is extremely effective in protecting the cells of the body from the process of oxidation. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps to provide the body with the means to neutralize free radicals. Free radicals occur naturally in the body as a result of various processes that take place. It is therefore not possible to prevent them from being formed in the first place. What is possible is that one can ensure that the free radicals are contained so that they do not build up.
One can gain the benefits of vitamin C antioxidant by consuming a number of different food items that contain vitamin C. The Vitamin C antioxidant properties make it an ideal tool for handling free radicals. The vitamin C antioxidant function makes it important to consume plenty of this vitamin as this will help to slow down the process of ageing as well as any cell level damage that may be occurring as a result of free radicals being present for long periods of time in high concentrations.

Naturally occurring vitamin C is the most potent and the healthiest form of vitamin C. Synthetic vitamins are not as healthy and may not provide the same support to the body. Fortunately, one can avail of the vitamin C antioxidant benefits by consuming one of the many naturally occurring foods that contain vitamin C. Some of these foods include oranges, strawberries, papaya, bell peppers, parsley, broccoli and cauliflower. This list includes some fruits and some vegetables. Therefore a diet that has a good quantity of both fruits and vegetables is a diet that will provide the body with plenty of vitamin C. People should not get confused about the various foods that they need to consume. A simple balance can be achieved in the diet by alternating various fruits and vegetables throughout the week. Other food items such as meats and dairy can be added and subtracted as and when required. As long as one is maintaining variety and a healthy quantity, the diet will, by default, contain enough vitamin C antioxidants which will benefit the health of the individual in the long run. Oxidation contributes to ageing of the tissues, organs and skin of the body. Vitamin C helps to fight free radicals, thereby preventing wrinkles and illnesses such as cataracts, arthritis, cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory properties which help the body to fight diseases such as gingivitis, glaucoma, joint pain, shingles, sunburn, urinary tract infections and bronchitis. It is also beneficial for individuals with iron deficiency because it enables the body to absorb iron. Inadequate intake of vitamin C can lead to scurvy. This condition is characterized by inflammation and bleeding of the gums, improper healing of wounds, bruising, joint pain and wasting of the muscles.

There are various sources of vitamin C. It is found in fruits such as limes, oranges and grapefruit. Vegetables also contain vitamin C. These include green peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. Vitamin C undergoes changes during the process of food preparation. Chopping, boiling, cooking and exposure to air can cause damage to this antioxidant. However, most foods contain such high amounts of vitamin C, that even after all the stages of food preparation, there is enough left to fulfill the necessary daily requirement. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is 60 – 90 milligrams per day. Males are required to consume more vitamin C than females. Those who smoke cigarettes must consume at least 35 mg more vitamin C than the average adult. This is because smoking reduces the levels of vitamin C in the body. It is also triggers off certain biological processes that damage the cells. Vitamin deficiencies are quite rare as it is also present in several processed foods as a preservative. A well known source of vitamin C is green tea. Green tea is high in vitamin and mineral content. The amount of ascorbic acid present in green tea can be compared to that contained in a lemon. In addition, green tea is a good source of niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and folic acid. Another valuable source of vitamin C is watermelon, which also contains beta carotene, an antioxidant that gets converted to vitamin A in the body. Recent research has indicated that vitamin C is a redox agent. This means that it can work as an antioxidant in some cases, and an oxidant in other cases.

The intake of vitamin C has been known to help in preventing cell damage due to free radicals and aging. But these effects are at the cellular level. Research hasn’t yet proved that this effectiveness extends to preventing or curing chronic conditions. Vitamin C is popularly known to be effective in treating the common cold. But this has not yet been proven. Taken in high doses at the start of  a cold, vitamin C has been known to alleviate the severity of symptoms to some extent. This is because it has an antihistaminic effect. Vitamin C may not be a miraculous health solution, but it does constitute an essential part of the diet. If taken in excess quantities, it could also cause harm. A healthy, balanced diet that comprises of a variety of foods will ensure that the body gets adequate vitamin C to prevent diseases such as scurvy and other such conditions.

Submitted on January 16, 2014