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Health Encylopedia

 
Vitamin C
 
SubjectContents
Definition A water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development.
Alternative Names Ascorbic acid
Function Vitamin C promotes healthy teeth and gums, helps in the absorption of iron, aids in the maintenance of normal connective tissue, and promotes wound healing. It also helps the body's immune system.
Food Sources Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is found in green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe. Most other fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C; fish and milk contain small amounts.
Side Effects A deficiency of vitamin C causes the disease scurvy , which is rare in the United States. Toxicity does not normally occur, since vitamin C is water soluble and is regularly excreted by the body.  Recent studies have shown, however, that excessive doses of vitamin C (i.e., more than the RDA) can lead to toxicity.  The most common manifestations of vitamin C toxicity are kidney stones, and in very rare circumstances, anemia (caused by interference with vitamin B12 absorption). Diarrhea is also a possible (but uncommon) symptom associated with increased intake of vitamin C.
Recommendations Recommended daily allowances (RDAs) are defined as the levels of intake of essential nutrients that, on the basis of scientific knowledge, the Food and Nutrition Board judges to be adequate to meet the known nutrient needs of practically all healthy persons. The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid . Vitamin C should be consumed every day, since it is not a fat -soluble vitamin, and cannot be stored for later use. It is water soluble, and is therefore excreted regularly through the urine by the body. Specific recommendations for each vitamin depend on age, gender, and other factors (such as pregnancy).  The U.S. Department of Agriculture has a PDF file that lists these recommendations .