Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid and Ascorbate, is a vitamin found in various foods and sold as a dietary supplement. It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient involved in the repair of tissue and the enzymatic production of certain neurotransmitters. It is required for the functioning of several enzymes and is important for immune system function. It also functions as an antioxidant.
Evidence does not support its use for the prevention of the common cold. There is, however, some evidence that regular use may shorten the length of colds. It is unclear whether supplementation affects the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or dementia. It may be taken by mouth or by injection.
Vitamin C is generally well tolerated. Large doses may cause gastrointestinal discomfort, headache, trouble sleeping, and flushing of the skin. Normal doses are safe during pregnancy. The United States Institute of Medicine recommends against taking large doses.
Vitamin C was discovered in 1912, isolated in 1928, and in 1933, was the first vitamin to be chemically produced. It is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the safest and most effective medicines needed in a health system. Vitamin C is available as an inexpensive generic and over-the-counter medication. Partly for its discovery, Albert Szent-Györgyi and Walter Norman Haworth were awarded the 1937 Nobel Prizes in Physiology and Medicine and Chemistry, respectively. Foods containing vitamin C include citrus fruits, kiwifruit, guava, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers and strawberries. Prolonged storage or cooking may reduce vitamin C content in foods.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system. It is necessary for the optimal functioning of the enzymes responsible for the breakdown of food in order for nutrients to be used and for fat to be digested properly and not to accumulate in the body, creating excess weight. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant that counteracts toxic substances that accelerate the aging of body cells. It also neutralizes free radicals by preserving cell membranes.
Vitamin C is ideal for athletes as intense physical activity causes greater oxidative stress and therefore adequate Vitamin C consumption is of particular importance. Vitamin C also prevents tissue and joint injuries, also prevents chronic fatigue.