May 10, 2022
Why is Vitamin C necessary for Humans? What happens in its deficiency? What are the Best Sources as per Ayurveda?
Vitamin C a well known type of important Vitamin. It is also called Ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid slows down the rate of cell damage. It is essential for the absorption of iron ( a basic element for body functioning) from plant based foods. Deficiency chances of vitamin C are rare as it is available in a variety of food products. But the unhealthy lifestyle of present days shows deficiency of this important vitamin in many individuals. Scurvy (we will discuss later in this article) is the common disease due to deficiency of Vitamin C. The other associated complaints due to deficiency of Vitamin C are anemia, infection, bleeding gums, dry and splitting hair and impaired wound healing. Vitamin C is essential in the prevention of infection and drains free radicals from the body. Collagen is essential to build and maintain healthy connective tissue. Vitamin C is essential to build good cartilages, immunity, bone strength etc. In this article we will discuss Vitamin C, sources, functions, deficiency of Vitamin C and Ayurvedic sources to maintain the levels of Vitamin C. Citrus fruits are helpful to manage the bleeding, anemia and other associated problems with low levels of ascorbic acid.
Vitamin C is a light weight molecular simple carbohydrate with a idol structure due to which it is water soluble in nature. Vitamin C is synthesized by most of the species. Vitamin C is not stored or produced in the body of humans. So external sources to maintain the good levels of Vitamin C are essential. The requirement of Vitamin C is therefore for the collagen biosynthesis, for the synthesis of L- carnitine and metabolism of protein. Collagen is a very important unit of connective tissue, which is basic and promotes wound healing. The body’s total content of Vitamin- C is from 300 mg up to 2 gram. Vitamin C which is extra stored and maintained in body cells and is highest in W.B.C’s, adrenal glands and brain. An individual needs approx 60 mg of Vitamin C every day. Dosage varies in adults and children. Biotechnology enables the addition of Vitamin C in some juices and other food items. One important fact about Vitamin C is that it is easily destroyed during food preparation or storage. To get proper amounts of Vitamin C from different sources it is important to eat fresh fruits and veggies, cook veggies in little water and avoid over cooking. Vitamin C is soluble in water and found in fruits and veggies. Citrus fruits are the best source of Vitamin C. Foods which are rich in Vitamin C are citrus fruits Kakadu Plums (T. ferdinandiana) contains 5300 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams, Acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata) contains 822 mg of Vitamin C per 100 gm, Rose hips contains 119 mg of Vitamin C and supports good skin, chili pepper and guavas are other rich sources of Vitamin C contains 109 mg and 126 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams.
Ascorbic acid is a 6 carbon organic acid with structural similarity to glucose. It is a potent reducing agent and is biologically active. It is absorbed from GIT and widely distributed extra- and intracellularly. Concentration of Plasma and Vitamin C depend on its intake. The 60 mg/day which is the approx. daily dosage results in 0.8 mg/dl in plasma and 1.5 g in the body as a whole. Human body is able to store 2.5 gram rest which is drained via urination. The stored Vitamin C is oxidized to dehydroascorbic and oxalic acid metabolites. Vitamin C is important for folic acid conversion to folinic acid, adrenal steroids, biosynthesis and promotes metabolism of prostaglandins. Vitamin C was first discovered in 1928 under the name hexuronic acid. Scurvy is the problem associated with deficiency of Vitamin C. Earlier it was very common in the naval forces of the world. At that time it usually affected the sailors. In an experiment in 1747 scurvy of multiple patients was cured with lemons and oranges only. So many animals have a tendency to synthesize Vitamin C on their own. But humans are not able to synthesize Vitamin C on their own. Scurvy is also concerned with the potato famine in Ireland.
Functions of Vitamin C
- Vitamin C helps to play a vital role in oxidation of tissue.
- As we read earlier Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen formation.
- Vitamin C supports matrices for the blood vessels and bones.
- Helpful for the absorption of Iron.
- Vitamin C is evident to prevent the cold and infections.
- Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant known to drain out free radicals from the body.
- It helps to boost the serotonin level and reduce stress.
- Vitamin C is helpful to manage dry skin and wrinkles.
- It is known to boost the noradrenaline levels of a well known neurotransmitter.
- Also it helps to maintain alertness and confidence.
- Ascorbic acid helps to relieve the loss of libido due to deficiency of Vitamin C.
Risk factors for low levels of vitamin C
The associated risk factors include smoking, poor socioeconomic level, excessive alcohol intake, diabetic obese or any other metabolic syndrome. People who smoke excessively have more free radicals in their body hence are more prone to the vitamin deficiency.
Deficiency of Vitamin C
Following is the disease or complaints which are associated with Vitamin C deficiency
- Scurvy – Scurvy simply is a defective formation of collagen, impaired healing, capillary hemorrhage, subnormal platelet adhesiveness, because platelets are rich in ascorbate. Trauma, surgery, burns; infections usually increase the need of Vitamin C. The features of scurvy are as – spongy, bleeding and swollen gums, gastrointestinal tract hemorrhage, anemia and slow wound healing. Scurvy is prevalent among malnourished infants, drug addicts, and alcoholics mostly.
- Joint and Muscle pain– Vitamin C deficiency may cause excessive pain in the joints or poor bone status. With the pain joints may suffer inflammation or even difficulty in movement. Joint pain is usually countered by vitamin administration.
- Fatigue – Low body stamina, low energy levels. Unable to do exertion and fatigue can be associated with low levels of Vitamin C. Although fatigue can be the associated symptom of many kinds of illness.
- Mood Changes – Mood changes, lethargy, emotions and anger can be associated with Vitamin C deficiency. Optimum levels of Vitamin C promote a good mood and self esteem.
- Weight Loss – Weight loss can be associated with deficiency of Vitamin C. A person suffering from weight loss may focus on natural sources of Vitamin C.
- Bruising – Bruising is associated with deficiency of Vitamin C.
- Dry Hair and Skin – A change in hair and skin texture can also signal that the body is not getting enough of vitamin C and other essential vitamins and minerals.
- Infections – Poor or deprived status of Vitamin c enhance the exposure towards multiple infections, the low level of Vitamin C tends to deprive the Low levels of vitamin C in the body can have a negative impact on the fighting of infections. This occurs due to the body’s weak immune system. It may also cause chronic low energy, strength and depression. Even bone strength is affected.
Sources for Vitamin C
Ayurvedic texts upload the advantages of healthy living. A quote in Ayurveda is very famous i.e ‘Aharam param bhaishjam’ means food is the best medicine. In the context of Vitamin C we can discuss Phalvarga, a category under Aharvarga. Acharya sushruta has mentioned Dadima (pomegranate), Amlaka (Embellica officinalis), Draksha (Vitis vinifera), Kharjura (Phoenix dactylifera) and Matulunga (Citrus medica). Here we will discuss the natural sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C is soluble in water and found in fruits and veggies. Citrus fruits are the best source of Vitamin C. The other sources are pepper, blackcurrants, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes. 3 large strawberries contain approx 35 gm Vitamin C. Other foods which are rich in Vitamin C are Kakadu Plums (T. ferdinandiana) contains 5300 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams, Acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata) contains 822 mg of Vitamin C per 100 gm, Rose hips contains 119 mg of Vitamin C and supports good skin, chilli pepper and guavas are other rich sources of Vitamin C contains 109 mg and 126 mg of Vitamin C per 100 grams. All these sources are also rich in antioxidants and lycopene.
1. Citrus Fruits
Lemon and oranges are the rich sources to supplement Vitamin C naturally in the body. Citrus fruits help to enhance immunity. Citrus fruits are helpful to maintain the skin’s health and elasticity. These fruits are helpful due to anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. In one lemon there is approximately 83 mg of vitamin c, one orange which is medium in size contains 70 mg of Vitamin C. Grapefruit contains 44 mg of Vitamin C.
Papaya contains 235 mg of vitamin C. papaya has more vitamin C than orange. Papaya is a fibrous fruit. It helps to drain out the toxins and harmful chemicals. It enhances the vitamin C levels so it is able to prevent skin acne and pigmentation. Papaya is rechak (purgative) in nature.
Amla is a well known fruit or berry having plenty of ayurvedic medicines. It is one of the richest sources of Vitamin C. It helps to enhance the level of vitamins in the body. The fruit contains higher concentration of vitamin c than apple. The leaves of amla contain gallic acid, ascorbic acid and music acid. It also helps to reduce the level of cholesterol and helps to detoxify the channels of the body. Amla is an anti-anaemic, anabolic, antiemetic agent. It also prevents the body from various infections and inflammations.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc are the rich source of Vitamin C. In broccoli there is 89 mg of vitamin C and in cabbage and cauliflower there is 36 mg and 48 mg vitamin C respectively. People who are smokers should opt for these vegetables to reduce the free radicals. The fibrous content of the cruciferous vegetables help to relieve constipation and promotes better absorption of nutrients.
Guava also contains ample amounts of Vitamin- C. It helps to boost Vitamin C and increase the defensive strength of the body. Also it is one of the best fruits to solve the abdominal issues. Single fruit of guava is loaded with 200 mg of ascorbic acid.
Strawberry contains a good level of ascorbic acid and antioxidants. It is beneficial to manage the heart concerns, diabetic management and make the bowel movements better. As we have discussed earlier 100 grams of strawberries contain approx 59-60 mg of ascorbic acid. Strawberries promote a good mood and soothing effect.
7. Terminalia Chebula
T chebula is a well known purgative. It is one of the important constituents of Triphala churna. It is rich in Vitamin C hence has a good mutagenic activity. Haritaki promotes the purification of the body due to its purgative action. It is also called as a rejuvenator and Vataanulomya’ drain out the excessive vata from the body.
8. Tinospora Cordifolia
T. cordifolia is a good source of vitamin C and helps to inhibit the rate of infections in the body. Giloy is a well known immunity booster and a classical rejuvenator. It promotes the defensive line against the invaders or pathogens. Regular use of giloy helps to enhance the stores of vitamin C in the body.
9. Taro Plant (Colocasia Esculenta)
It is also called the Yam plant. It is widely distributed in the northern part of India. It is loaded with flavones, apigenin, Vitamin C and luteolin. Cooked leaves of this plant are a good source of dietary fiber and relieve constipation. It is astringent and styptic. It is beneficial in alopecia as well as promotes anti-ageing effects.
10. Boerhavia Diffusa (Punarnava)
B diffusa is a well known herbal plant known to promote good health and prevent the conditions associated with low levels of Vitamin C like Anaemia , stunted growth. It helps to promote the mood, increase the hb level in the body. It is diuretic in action and rich in ascorbic acid, and acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. Also it contains flavonoids and lowers down the uric acid levels in the body.
11. Mucuna Pruriens (Kaunch beej)
M pruriens is an astringent, nervine tonic, local stimulant. It is rich in ascorbic acid and flavonoids. Seeds of kaunch containing L-DOPA help to enhance the serotonin levels. It enhance the male sexual health and manage the problems arised due to deficiency of Vitamin C. kaunch helps to promote the activity of central nervous system.
12. Cordia Dichotoma (Lasoda)
The basic ingredients of the C dichotoma are alpha-amyrin, ascorbic acid, calcium, iron, copper and chromium. It is astringent in nature, demulcent, expectorant, diuretic and antihelminthic. It is helpful to manage the problems associated with diabetes. It manages the lower levels of semen associated with deficiency of Vitamin C.
In the above discussion it is clear that Vitamin C is one of the most essential vitamins for the body. It helps to maintain cell growth. It is best to enhance bone strength, open the channels and increase immunity. The variety of products of Planet Ayurveda promotes the good levels of Vitamins in the body. Vitamins promote longevity, are anti-aging in nature, promote glow and are rejuvenators in action. Lower level of Vitamin C may lead to poor sexual health and poor status of sperm count or spem motility. It is important to opt for natural sources of vitamins. The fruits like amla if consumed on a regular basis enhance the Vitamin C levels easily. Balanced diet, natural lifestyle, herbal solutions of problems is helpful for a good life and promotes longevity. In case of any query kindly visit www.planetayurveda.com.