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Vitamin C- Ascorbic Acid Benefits, Deficiency and Sources
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin. It is the most sensitive of all vitamins to heat. Man, monkey and guinea pig are perhaps the only species known to require vitamin C in their diet.
Sources: The main dietary sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables. Traces of vitamin C occur in fresh meat and fish but scarcely any in cereals, Germinating pulses contain good amounts. Roots and tubers contain small amounts. Amla or the Indian gooseberry is one of the richest sources of vitamin C both in the fresh as well as in the dry condition. Guavas are another cheap but rich sources of this vitamin.
Requirements: The estimated requirement for vitamin C has recently been raised from 40 to 60 mg with much larger doses advocated by some. The normal body when fully saturated contains about 5 g of vitamin C. Daily intakes recommended by the ICMR.
Functions: Vitamin C has an important role to play in tissue oxidation. It is needed for the formation of collagen, which accounts for 25 percent of total body protein. Collagen provides a supporting matrix for the blood vessels and connective tissue and for bones and cartilage. That explains why in vitamin C deficiency this support fails with the result that total haemorrhages occur and the bones fractures easily.
Vitamin C, by reducing ferric iron to ferrous iron, facilitates the abs option of iron from vegetables foods. It inhibits nitrosamine formation by the intestinal mucosa. Other claims such as prevention of common cold and protection against infections are not substantiated.
Deficiency: Deficiency of vitamin C results in scurvy, the signs of which are swollen and bleeding gums, subcutaneous bruising or bleeding into the skin or joints, delayed wound healing, anaemia and weakness. Scurvy, which was once an important deficiency disease, is not longer a disease of world importance.
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