At the microscopic molecular level, Vitamin C is an inter-linked chain of six carbon, six oxygen and eight hydrogen components. More precisely, this ascorbic acid molecule contains four hydroxyl groups and is extremely sensitive to light, heating and the action of oxidizing agents and ions.
A Very Versatile Vitamin
Without Vitamin C, the human body would be unable to synthesize collagen. Beyond its highly publicized use by plastic surgeons as a lip enhancement ingredient, collagen is a critical component for human blood vessels, bones, ligaments and tendons.
Vitamin C also fuels the function of norepinephrine, a neurological transmitter of brain function and mood information. Among the vitamin’s many other human body functions are: the synthesization of carnitine, a molecule that helps the metabolism process fat; the transformation of cholesterol into bilke acids; and, perhaps most famously, vitamin C acts as antioxidant, protecting proteins, carbohydrates and other nutrients from oxygen damage.
Recommended Daily Allowance
The amount of Vitamin C that a person needs to eat on a daily basis increases with age. It stars at the infant stage at around 40 to 50 milligrams per day, and increases all the way up to 90 milligrams for adults. If that adult smokes, interestingly enough, the daily recommended allowance of Vitamin C climbs even higher, to 125 milligrams.
Once upon a time, Vitamin C was required to combat the onset of scurvy. But that disease has largely gone the way of the 17th and 18th century navies. Today, Vitamin C acts as a preventative agent against a whole range of diseases, from heart disease to cancer to gout. It can also be administered to treat diseases that have been diagnosed.
Vitamin C is available from a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Although the danger of taking too much Vitamin C is almost non-existent, it is worth noting that young children should not take any more than 400 to 650 milligrams per day, while adults who go above a daily intake of 2,000 milligrams may also be risking adverse side effects.
Internet Journal of Science – Chemical and Biological Properties of Vitamin C, Retrieved January 31, 2011, from http://www.netsci-journal.com/97v4/97014/vitc2.html
Oregon State University – Vitamin C, Retrieved January 31, 2011 from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/