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The Importance of Ascorbic Acid


Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is a nutrient that plays a crucial role in maintaining optimal health. Vitamin C is often present in multivitamin supplements and abundant in many fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, oranges and orange juice, grapefruit and grapefruit juice, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, red and green peppers, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and tomato juice. Getting plenty of vitamin C daily is a must for your body to function properly.

Antioxidant Properties

Because it is an antioxidant, vitamin C helps prevent cell damage caused by free radicals in your body. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that free radical build-up in your body can cause you to age faster, and puts you at a higher risk for developing heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Therefore, aim to eat at least one food rich in vitamin C daily. Other antioxidants include beta-carotene and vitamins E and A.

Immune Function and Wound Healing

Getting plenty of vitamin C daily optimizes your body's immune function and enhances wound healing. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that vitamin C helps your body make collagen, which aids in wound healing. A study published in 2009 in Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten reports that while vitamin C doesn't prevent you from getting sick, it may reduce the duration of illnesses in healthy people.

Tyrosinemia in Newborns

Tyrosinemia is a genetic disorder in newborns that causes levels of tyrosine, which is an amino acid, to become too high. MedlinePlus notes that ingesting vitamin C or receiving a vitamin-C shot corrects the protein imbalance caused by tyrosinemia in newborns. However, never give an infant high doses of vitamin C unless your doctor okays it.

Preventing Deficiencies

Getting plenty of vitamin C on a daily basis helps prevent vitamin C deficiency, which can lead to scurvy. Scurvy is a health condition that can cause fatigue, inflammation of the gums, bleeding gums, impaired collagen synthesis, joint pain, depression, loose teeth and poor wound healing. The Office of Dietary Supplements notes that if left untreated, scurvy can be fatal.

How Much is Enough?

Because vitamin C is a water soluble-vitamin, your body needs a continuous daily supply of it. Vitamin C isn't stored in your body like fat-soluble vitamins. The Institute of Medicine notes that recommended dietary allowances, or RDAs, for vitamin C are 90 milligrams daily for men, 75 milligrams for women, 85 milligrams during pregnancy, and 120 milligrams of vitamin C each day for breastfeeding women. Eating a variety of fruits and veggies, and taking a multivitamin supplement containing vitamin C, will likely help you meet your daily needs.


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An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as and J

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