Ascorbic acid, vitamin C (in Latin scorbutus - scurvy) is the elixir of life, which is valued on all continents. Everyone has heard that vitamin C saves from colds, so in winter, everyone massively leans on tangerines, oranges, and buys sweet ascorbic acid in pharmacies and supermarkets. Why is this substance so famous?
The existence of a vitamin that is ready to resist scurvy was suspected by scientists as early as the middle of the nineteenth century. There was an unspoken rule among sailors and healers: to dilute the usual diet with potatoes, citruses, fruits. Due to a sufficient amount of the substance, the body is protected from viral infections, the immune system independently fights them.
A few decades later, the researcher Zelva began to study the composition of vitamin C, and soon managed to extract ascorbic acid from freshly squeezed lemon juice. However, in the 1920s, the material and technical base did not allow further progress in studies. After a while, Albert Giorgi and Charles King managed to decipher the chemical formula of the substance and artificially synthesized it. Since then, hundreds of scientists have devoted their work to studying the properties of vitamin C. Nowadays, the substance is regularly used in medicine and the beauty industry.
After the discovery of ascorbic acid in European countries, its use reached record levels. The government recommended that residents use the substance three times a day, without understanding what the new element is good for. Soon, complaints about hypervitaminosis of ascorbic acid rained down on medical institutions, the symptoms of which are life-threatening. Germany and Norway introduced restrictions on the production, advertising and sale of vitamin C, which improved the situation. People began to be wary of a substance that was recently considered a miracle cure for all diseases.
Restrictions on ascorbic acid still exist. In addition, in 2005, the European Court ordered manufacturers to replace the phrases “cures, prolongs” with “promotes, protects” in the instructions for the drug. Doctors undertake to regulate the dosage of the element in order to avoid unwanted complications.
Despite the presence of contraindications, recommendations, the biological role of vitamin C in the functionality of the body is enormous. The diet should be carefully monitored to ensure the intake of a sufficient amount of the substance with food and vitamin preparations.
The concept of ascorbic acid
The chemical formula of ascorbic acid is С6Н8О6. The powder is not particularly different from other vitamins: water-soluble, resistant to fat, has a sour taste, but has no smell. If stored improperly, it disintegrates and resembles a powder in its structure.
At what temperature is vitamin C destroyed? The destructive process begins at 60 degrees, and breaks into particles at 100 degrees.
Chemists have proven that vitamin molecules are similar in composition to crystalline sugar, but there are still significant differences. In the food industry, artificially synthesized vitamin C appeared, which immediately became a popular food supplement under the number E315. It does not have the same useful properties as the original, although it is much cheaper.
Functions in the body
The main role of ascorbic acid in the human body is the fight against radicals and antioxidant action. And also it is the strongest antioxidant, because it protects the internal organs and tissues from possible damage, the development of cancer.
What is vitamin C for? With its participation in the body, redox processes take place, protein synthesis is carried out, connective tissues are strengthened. Vitamin C accelerates the healing of wounds, scars and has a positive effect on the regeneration of the epithelium.
It is important for athletes to regularly take vitamin and mineral complexes containing ascorbic acid, since it normalizes energy processes and increases endurance. The synthesis of steroid hormones, the exchange of folic acid, and some metals cannot do without vitamin C. In bodybuilding, the substance is valued for its role in gaining muscle mass, since the level of protein absorption and processing depends on it.
The value of ascorbic acid for the body cannot be overestimated. Vitamin C strengthens blood vessels, promotes better permeability of important elements through their walls. In the presence of vitamin C in the body in the right amount, inflammatory processes proceed in a mild form.
Assimilation of iron thanks to vitamin C improves, the blood is provided with an anti-anemic factor.
The immune system works at full strength in the presence of three main vitamins: A, C, E. Ascorbic acid is responsible for the functionality of protective cells, with a sufficient amount of it, immunity resists any foreign agents: viruses, bacteria, parasites.
Oncology is considered the plague of the 21st century, statistics show that the number of cancer patients is steadily increasing. Oncologists argue that with a normal level of vitamin C in the body, a natural fight against cancer cells occurs. However, if a surplus of ascorbate is formed in the body, cancerous mutating cells become more stable, even radiation therapy does not take them. Cancer patients are advised to maintain vitamin C at the proper level.
Ascorbic acid protects the liver from the influence of toxins, removes copper, radioactive substances, mercury, lead. For the prevention of the development of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, ascorbate has become an indispensable tool. By controlling the level of a substance in the body, there is a chance to avoid oncological neoplasms in the colon and bladder.
Acid normalizes the functionality of the nervous system, the body acquires resistance to stress, there are forces to resist pathogens. In addition, the work of the adrenal glands is leveled, the right amount of hormones responsible for combating stress is produced. This is not all that ascorbic acid is responsible for.
It is impossible to give an objective assessment of the effect of vitamin C. In the twenty-first century, science knows far from all the properties that matter has. Do not underestimate the control over the level of ascorbic acid in the body, since its lack causes the development of chronic diseases.
Sources of vitamin C
The body, due to its nature, does not accumulate ascorbic acid, so its intake should be carefully monitored. In the daily diet, foods rich in vitamin C are not so often present. The amount of the substance should be replenished in a medicinal form or in the form of food supplements. The natural vitamin is water-soluble and easily heat-treated, which destroys its beneficial chemical properties.
Main sources of the substance:
- kiwi ;
- wild rose;
- sweet pepper;
- baked potatoes;
- leafy herbs.
Previously, oranges and tangerines were considered the main fruits, which contain the most vitamin. After a while, scientists proved that this is not so, but it is difficult to compare with rose hips, bell peppers and kiwi in terms of the presence of a substance.
Among animal products, vitamin C is found only in the liver, adrenal glands, and kidneys.
Herbs containing ascorbic acid are added during cooking to any dishes:
- raspberry leaves;
These plants are easily digestible, as evidenced by more than one table of nutritional value of products. People who follow a healthy diet should not worry about the level of the vitamin, since their diet consists of healthy foods, the calorie content of which will not harm the diet.
There are no recommendations on how vitamin C is absorbed. To assimilate as much ascorbic acid as possible, adhere to the following rules:
- Vegetables and fruits are peeled and cut just before eating.
- During cooking, vegetables are placed only in boiled water so that the organic vitamin does not dissolve in water during heating.
- Cooked vegetables should not be left in the broth, because everything is given to the liquid, and the fruits become useless.
- Fresh vegetable salads are salted and seasoned with sauces only before serving.
Vitamin C consumption occurs immediately after it enters the body, take care of even vitamin intake throughout the day.
It is desirable to divide the daily dose into three equal portions, thus, the concentration of the substance is maintained in the body constantly. Having learned what contains the most ascorbic acid, try to properly prepare and consume foods with an increased source of the substance.
Ascorbic acid as a medicine
In case of vitamin deficiency in the body, it is recommended to replenish the supply with medicines. Release form:
The form of application is determined by the attending physician, depending on the nature of the disease. Instructions for use warns of possible side effects if the dosage of the drug is incorrect.
Ascorbic pills are prescribed for children because they resemble sweets, not medicine. Effervescent tablets are popular with professional athletes. One tablet diluted in a glass of water replenishes vitamin stores and invigorates before a grueling workout. The powder is available in sachets.
Solution for injection is prepared in ampoules. One ampoule contains 50 mg and 100 mg, which allows you to enter the desired dose of the drug at a time.
Overdose adversely affects the lining of the stomach and digestive tractin general. Pregnant women are at risk, as the metabolism between the body of the mother and the fetus is disturbed. As a result, the child develops an allergy, and the mother can earn herself problems with the gastrointestinal tract.
Daily Value for Humans
Scientists have not reached a consensus on the daily value of vitamin C for humans. A common option for an adult average person is 60-80 milligrams of a substance per day.
Infants are allowed to consume up to 40 mg of ascorbic acid, for children at the age of five - 45 mg, at fourteen years the daily rate increases to 50 mg.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends using a different calculation method: 2.5 mg of the substance is needed per kilogram of body weight. A man weighing 90 kg per day should receive 225 mg of vitamin C per day. To replenish the level of ascorbic acid for medicinal purposes, doctors increase the recommended dose three times.
Some categories are advised to increase standard doses because the body is not getting enough of the average amount of vitamin C in the body. These categories include:
- Pregnant women - 75 mg. If you have a question, is it possible for pregnant women to take vitamin C, check this in the antenatal clinic so as not to worry about the health of the baby. When planning a pregnancy, the level of vitamin C in the body is important for both men and women. The daily norm does not exceed 100 mg.
- Breastfeeding mothers - 90 mg.
- Smokers and alcoholics 120 mg. Alcohol and nicotine accelerate the breakdown of vitamin C, which provokes the formation of a deficiency of the substance in the body.
- Persons in constant stressful situations.
- People living in environmentally unfriendly areas: factory emissions, exhaust fumes, untreated drinking water, etc. As soon as harmful substances enter the body, ascorbic acid is consumed for their disposal. The need for the vitamin is increasing.
- Inhabitants of the Far North and southern regions. Unusual weather conditions are considered stressful for the body, so residents are advised to take 40% more vitamins than other categories.
- Women taking oral contraceptives.
Even if you are in the group of people suffering from vitamin C deficiency, do not use a single dose of the substance at the same time. Divide the dose into 3 servings and take them throughout the day.
At what age is ascorbic acid allowed? Vitamins without the presence of pathologies in the baby are introduced into the diet after the end of the period of breastfeeding. When breastfeeding, the child receives all the necessary elements with mother's milk.
A lethal dose for humans is 60-90 tablets in a short period of time. The body does not have time to remove the substance from the body with urine, an overdose of the vitamin occurs.
Vitamin C deficiency and its symptoms
Recall that since ancient times, citrus fruits were considered the only salvation from scurvy. 10 mg of ascorbic acid, which is equal to two fresh apples or a bunch of grapes, will help prevent the development of the disease. However, this is not enough to maintain the productive work of the body in conditions when the world is filled with negative factors: factories, exhaust gases, dirty water, chronic stress.
Hypovitaminosis is manifested by a decrease in the functioning of the immune system, the body's vulnerability to respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases. Studies have shown that with a deficiency of ascorbic acid in schoolchildren, the body's ability to resist pathogens has halved. Acid deficiency leads to the development of serious diseases. Signs of vitamin C deficiency:
- sore and bleeding gums;
- loss of teeth;
- decreased visual acuity;
- varicose veins;
- prolonged wound healing;
- hair loss;
- appearance of wrinkles;
- joint pain;
With insufficient intake of ascorbic acid, beriberi develops for two to three months.
Before taking vitamins, find out their amount in the body in order to avoid undesirable consequences from an overdose. An excess of vitamin C is indicated by its presence in the urine.
Replenishment of vitamin C in the body is necessary with the right foods, which have already been mentioned above. Try to minimize heat treatment of fruits and vegetables, as useful substances are destroyed extremely quickly.
Excess of ascorbic acid in the human body
Ascorbic acid is extremely useful for humans, but in large quantities it can cause irreparable harm. The body functions normally only when it receives the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals, which does not exceed the permissible norm. Excess and deficiency become impetuses to undesirable processes that affect the general state of health.
Consequences of an excess of ascorbic acid:
- Destruction of blood cells.
- Simultaneous intake of vitamin C and aspirin leads to irritation of the gastric mucosa and even the formation of erosion, ulcers. Aspirin causes increased consumption of ascorbic acid, which is excreted in the urine through the kidneys. Such a loss is the first sign of a serious vitamin deficiency.
- A high dose of vitamin C interferes with the absorption of vitamin B12, which is used as a dietary supplement. B12 deficiency has an extremely negative effect on the body, so its level should be regularly monitored by a doctor.
- Sweets and chewing gums with a high content of vitamin C damage tooth enamel, so after eating them, be sure to brush your teeth and rinse your mouth.
- Excessive doses of ascorbic acid slow down the work of the pancreas, which is dangerous for patients with diabetes mellitus and people with anemia, thrombophlebitis, thrombosis. Vitamin C affects the formation of a separate group of hormones that affect the functioning of the kidneys and blood vessels.
Ascorbic acid is freely available in stores, pharmacies, it can be purchased without a doctor's prescription.
Too much vitamin C has negative consequences that are as serious as deficiency.
Vitamin C in medicine
The beneficial properties of ascorbic acid have become the reason for its popularity in medicine. Vitamin C preparations are prescribed for a wide range of conditions:
- infectious diseases;
Physicians may increase the dosage of vitamin C up to 1.5 g per day after reviewing the patient's history. Intramuscular preparations are administered in case of acute vitamin deficiency, in other cases the diet is regulated, dragees are prescribed.
The famous doctor Linus Pauling became an ardent supporter of the use of vitamin C for medicinal purposes. The scientist advocated the use of the substance in the treatment of serious diseases and minor ailments, but this trend was not confirmed by studies of physiologists. In some patients, after exceeding the daily allowance, serious problems caused by hypervitaminosis appeared.
During pregnancy, additional examinations and tests are carried out, since both the woman and the child can suffer. For pregnant women, it is not in vain that there are restrictions on the use of vitamin C, since in the early stages its excess provokes a miscarriage.
Ascorbic acid is prescribed for delayed periods and irregular cycles. Vitamin C is involved in the production of estrogen - the most important hormonal component necessary for the normal functioning of the female reproductive system. With a sufficient amount of this hormone, the muscle layer of the uterus contracts, provoking menstruation. Thus, the substance helps to regulate the release of menstruation and improves women's health.
Use in cosmetology
Ascorbic acid, as an antioxidant, is used in anti-aging cosmetics for women. Vitamin C-based products prevent the effects of free radicals on the skin of the face, so it is used in the manufacture of anti-aging creams.
The presence of a vitamin in the list of components of cosmetics does not guarantee quality, since the amount of the element used is not always enough to obtain the effect. The optimal dose in cosmetology ranges from 0.3% to 10%. Professional products on the labels contain information about the amount of active substance and the percentage of components.
Due to the sensitivity of the vitamin to light and air, cosmetics based on it are produced in sealed, tinted packaging with a dispenser.
Vitamin C facial cosmetics perform the following functions:
- protect the skin from infrared rays;
- synthesize collagen;
- restore collagen fibers;
- slow down the aging process;
- increase skin tone;
- prevent the appearance of age spots;
- relieve inflammation;
- refresh and improve complexion;
- strengthen the vascular walls.
In winter, to replenish vitamin C, it is necessary to take vitamin-mineral complexes for the skin.
Ascorbic acid is useful for hair, it gives hair shine and silkiness. Liquid vitamin C in ampoules is added to an ordinary shampoo or hair wash balm. Nutrition along the entire length is carried out during each wash.
Myths about vitamin C
Since the properties of ascorbic acid have become known to mankind, vitamin C has been accompanied by myths and rumors. About the miraculous properties of matter, legends are composed that are far from the real state of affairs. Let's take a look at the popular and widespread myths about vitamin C.
- Ascorbic acid protects against acute respiratory infections. Everyone has heard that at the first sign of illness, one should immediately take vitamin C. Doctors attributed "ascorbic acid" to adults and children, assuring that they would soon forget about runny nose and cough. This is not entirely true. Vitamin can help with a cold only if it is taken as a prophylactic before the onset of the manifestations of the disease. Otherwise, people who take vitamin C, at best, get sick less than the average person.
- Does not protect the body from toxins. The results of clinical studies have amazed experienced scientists. Smokers cause irreparable harm to the health of their family members, turning them into passive smokers. If they regularly take ascorbic acid, then the consequences of smoking are much less.
- Vitamin C has no effect on cancer. The opinions of scientists regarding the effect of ascorbic acid in the fight against cancerous tumors differ among themselves. A couple of years ago, Marky Levine, an employee of the National Institutes of Health, proved that ascorbate helps in the fight against cancer - it destroys cancer cells. With the injection of vitamin C into the body of the tumor, the survival rate of cancer cells decreased by half. The positive effect of the drug in cancer will have to be proved by the results of clinical studies, because each organism differs in individual characteristics.
- With the help of ascorbic acid, you can lose weight. Indeed, vitamin C improves the functioning of the body, it is possible to lose a few kilograms, but no more. To lose weight, you need not just take any pills, it is important to create a calorie deficit. Proper balanced nutrition, physical activity, sleep are the key to a healthy body. To understand how many calories are consumed and consumed daily, you should keep a diary and write down each meal (weight, calorie content) in it.
Excessive consumption, like the lack of an element, leads to negative consequences. You should not independently prescribe dosages for yourself without first being examined by a specialized doctor.