Detailansicht für den Begriff

Name des Begriffes: Vitamin C

Short introduction

  • Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is also known as ascorbic acid.
  • In the distant past, the disease scurvy was common among sailors on long voyages when fresh food was not available. It was probably the first disease to be definitely associated with a food deficiency.
  • The name anti-scorbutic was used as general term for those foods (e.g. lemon, lime, oranges) known to prevent scurvy, even though there was no understanding of the reason for this. Only around 1930 vitamin C was discovered.

Main natural sources

  • Vitamin C is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables.
  • Fruits.: oranges, lemon, papaya, grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi, mango.
  • Vegetables: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, leafy green vegetables.

Main function

  • Strong antioxidant. Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals (reactive by-products of normal cell activity), which might contribute to development of many chronic diseases. Vitamin C works along with vitamin E as partners in defence.
  • Primarily through this role, vitamin C stimulates the production and function of specific immune cells and plays a role in eye health.
  • Essential cofactor (helper) in numerous enzymatic reactions, e.g.: synthesis of collagen (a protein that forms the structure of skin and tendons – tendons connect muscle and bone, blood vessels, ligaments and all other connective tissues). As such vitamin C is important for e.g. wound healing and maintaining healthy gums.
  • Stimulates the absorption of iron from the diet.
  • Inhibitor of histamine, the compound released during allergic reactions.

Deficiency disease

  • Since it is widely distributed in fruits and vegetables a serious deficiency is rare.
  • Early symptoms may include e.g.: fatigue, loss of appetite, low resistance to infections and irritability.
  • Severe deficiency leads to scurvy. Scurvy is characterised by weakening of the collagenous structures. Symptoms e.g.: poor wound closure, joint pain and swelling, and gum bleedings.
  • In children it may cause bone malformation.
  • At risk: low income groups, smokers, pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Recommended daily intake

Latest Dietary Reference Intakes  (DRIs)
Institute of Medicine (IOM)

Age categoryPer day
Pregnancy
14 – 18 years
19 – 50 years
80 mg (RDA)
85 mg (RDA)
Lactation
14 – 18 years
19 – 50 years
115 mg (RDA)
120 mg (RDA)
Infants 6 – 12 months50 mg (AI)
Children
 1 – 3 years
 4 – 8 years
15 mg (RDA)
25 mg (RDA)
Males
 9 – 13 years
14 – 18 years
19 – 30 years
31 – 50 years
50 – 70 years
> 70 years
45 mg (RDA)
75 mg (RDA)
90 mg (RDA)
90 mg (RDA)
90 mg (RDA)
90 mg (RDA)
Females
 9 – 13 years
14 – 18 years
19 – 30 years
31 – 50 years
50 – 70 years
> 70 years
45 mg (RDA)
65 mg (RDA)
75 mg (RDA)
75 mg (RDA)
75 mg (RDA)
75 mg (RDA)

 

AI = Adequate Intake.
RDA = Recommended Dietary Allowance.

Synonyme: Ascorbic acid

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