Ascorbic Acid – What It Is, Benefits, Foods and Side Effects!

Ascorbic acid , or ascorbate, is synonymous with vitamin C , a term used as a general descriptor for all compounds capable of preventing or treating scurvy . The predominant form of the vitamin in tissues and foods is ascorbate. Dehydro-ascorbic acid is another compound with vitamin activity, but its concentration in tissues and foods is very low.

This is a very precious vitamin, essential for well-being, which everyone should know and learn to use in the best way, to ensure its considerable benefits. By the way, its chemical name is ascorbic acid and it performs very important functions for our health.

What is ascorbic acid?

Ascorbic acid ,  or vitamin C , participates in many metabolic reactions and the biosynthesis of amino acids, hormones and collagen. Thanks to its strong antioxidant powers, ascorbic acid  increases the barriers of the immune system and helps the body to prevent the risk of tumors, especially in the stomach, by inhibiting the synthesis of carcinogenic substances. Thus, its contribution is essential for the neutralization of free radicals.

It also participates, with copper metabolism , in the synthesis of catecholamines (epinephrine and norepinephrine, hormones produced by the adrenal glands) and peptide hormones (oxytocin, vasopressin, cholecystokinin). It takes part in wound healing, is an adjuvant against anemia and is important for growth because it strengthens bones and teeth.

What is ascorbic acid used for?

Let’s analyze what ascorbic acid is for  and what it can do to benefit our body:

  1. Keeps the skin compact and blemish-free;
  2. Prevents acne ;
  3. Prevents joint pain ;
  4. Keeps blood vessels and capillaries toned;
  5. Prevents bruises;
  6. Accelerates wound healing;
  7. Prevent infectious diseases;
  8. Defends against polluting agents;
  9. Prevents the risk of cataract ;
  10. Reduces the negative effects of stress .

Foods rich in ascorbic acid:

Ascorbic acid  is not produced by our body: we can consume certain foods, or through supplements. Here are the main sources of this vitamin:

Foods Rich in Ascorbic AcidPortionAmount of Ascorbic Acid
Lemon100 g129 mg
Orangeone unit90 mg
Strawberry100 g64 mg
Kiwi100 g112 mg
Pineapple1 slice93 mg
Guava100 g74 mg
Broccoli100 g132 mg
Yellow pepper100 g202 mg
Melon100 g33 mg
Papaya100 g54 mg

How much ascorbic acid do we need?

To stay healthy, the World Health Organization gives our body precise amounts of ascorbic acid  : from 35 to 60 milligrams a day. In particular, up to 35 milligrams are indispensable for babies; 40 for children; 65 for seniors and up to 85 milligrams for lactating women. Athletes have a higher requirement for this vitamin (but also for vitamin E and antioxidants in general), as they consume 10 to 40 times more oxygen than a person who leads a sedentary lifestyle, producing more free radicals.

Our need is, therefore, from 60 to 100 mg per day and, as the human organism is not capable of synthesizing this vitamin, it is therefore necessary to take it outside. The ideal amount is easily achieved by a diet rich in fresh raw fruits and vegetables: just to give a few examples, in red peppers 172 of ascorbic acid  is found in 100 grams and in cauliflower 65 in 100 grams.

Benefits of Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid is pure vitamin C , which can be used as an effective supplement and is available from pharmacies and herbalists without a prescription.

1. Helps absorb iron:

This vitamin facilitates the absorption of iron , counteracting anemia . The advice is to combine foods rich in ascorbic acid  with meat or fish (which tend to be the richest in iron ); the classic example is sprinkling the lemon above, as this, in addition to ascorbic acid , also contains abundant citric acid, another substance conducive to iron metabolism .

2. Benefits the cardiovascular system:

Ascorbic acid  promotes blood circulation. It has vasodilating properties and helps to lower blood pressure .

3. Improves Skin and Tissues:

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, this vitamin protects the skin from the effects of aging and the negative effects of ultraviolet rays. Ascorbic acid  is certainly involved in the production of collagen , a fundamental substance in the healing and trauma processes.

4. Works As An Antioxidant:

Experts call it a portentous antioxidant. In fact, its effects delay cellular aging and fight, as well as prevent, free radicals. Remember that free radicals can lead to high damage as they can develop various degenerative diseases.

5. Strengthens the Immune System:

This vitamin is an ally of the immune system . The latter is stimulated by this vitamin and this effect increases the body’s defenses against bacteria and viruses. In essence, the body will respond better to everything, an example is more defenses against illness from the flu .

6. Fight Stress:

Ascorbic Acid undeniably helps with stress . Therefore, it is useful on numerous occasions. Doctors claim that it is a tonic for the nervous system. It also fights mental and physical fatigue.

7. Benefits the Respiratory System:

Studies carried out by experts in the field are clear that it is an ally for the respiratory system. Asthma , for example, can be related to a lack of this vitamin. Or the excessive presence of free radicals. But there are other causes, of course, but Ascorbic Acid remains a valuable ally for what has just been said.

8. Improves Lungs Functioning:

Its protective action also affects the lungs. In fact, it is an important help against various diseases that can affect these organs. We recall among these: emphysema, silicosis, asthma , etc.

9. Prevents Heart Disease:

Prevents numerous diseases that can affect the cardiovascular system. In fact, it is very useful to eliminate the cholesterol that accumulates and therefore remains in excess. An effect that affects the arteries and therefore health in general.

10. Prevents Osteoporosis:

In addition, in addition to being an ally of the skeletal system, Ascorbic Acid is also a form of prevention against osteoporosis in the long term. Of course, only if taken regularly and in amounts just right for the body.

Facts about Ascorbic Acid:

The first effect of Ascorbic Acid or Vitamin C to be scientifically proven was the discovery that it protected from scurvy, a disease that in the 16th century killed many navigators en route to the New World. However, the disease was preceded by fatigue, irritability, vague muscle and joint pain, gingival bleeding, gingivitis and tooth loss.

Initially, this scourge was thought to come from food or cold. But then it was observed that the simple ingestion of lemon allowed to escape the disease. So, this is how an 18th century decree forced sailors to drink fresh lemon juice. Then, in the early 1900s, came the discovery that the medicinal substance contained in lemons was vitamin C.

Ascorbic Acid Deficiency:

The body needs to get the right amount of vitamin C to keep it efficient and healthy. When a deficiency of this substance occurs, one can begin to experience symptoms of various types. The matter just to begin with is less resistant to infections. This can lead to general disorders naturally. Fatigue is also a common symptom when there are no levels of Ascorbic Acid in the body.

Situations may occur in which the subject complains of mental fatigue or loss of appetite. Muscle pain is also quite common in the presence of a deficiency of this vitamin. Experts report that gums, cartilage and connective tissue need this substance. Otherwise, various types of problems can occur. Anyway, remember that poor digestion, weak hair that breaks and shortness of breath can all be related to Ascorbic Acid deficiency .

The lack of this not-so-serious vitamin can lead to a decrease in the immune system and the consequent attack of bacteria and microbes. Ascorbic acid intake should certainly be monitored and activated in people suffering from anemia , in pregnant women and the elderly, as well as in growing children.

Ascorbic acid side effects:

The side effects of Ascorbic Acid mainly refer to the onset of gastritis and stomach acid. In some cases it is also called diarrhea . These situations mainly concern those who take more than 2 g/day of vitamin C.

An excessive intake of vitamin C , or Ascorbic Acid – which can be caused by an unbalanced diet or an abuse of supplements – can cause kidney problems, with the formation of stones, or an overdose of iron since vitamin C favors its absorption.

An excess of vitamin C can lead to symptoms such as headaches , heartburn , vomiting, diarrhea , gastritis and abdominal cramping, but also weakness, dizziness and sudden hot flashes.

We conclude by talking about contraindications and remember that they concern cases such as a predisposition to kidney stones, but not only. In this situation, there is a notable increase in the urinary excretion of oxalates, which favors the formation of stones.

Too much vitamin C also affects the results of the urinalysis and can change it in very important situations, such as the analysis of bilirubin and glucose. So, before preparing them, it is advisable to avoid taking vitamin C for at least 10 hours. In case of supplementation with Ascorbic Acid , it is good to suspend the day before.

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