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Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most important vitamins for our health. It strengthens our immune system, it protects us against colds, and it makes us more resistant to stress. Up to the point that skin, hair, connective tissue or bones could not form themselves without the intervention of Vitamin C, that is involved in the functioning of the coenzyme that produces collagen.

The consumption of vitamin C also strengthens blood vessels, avoiding the deposit of cholesterol in them and preventing the appearance of arteriosclerosis.

In addition to strengthening the immune system, vitamin C is also involved in many metabolic processes, such as detoxification and the synthesis of collagen, the basic component for skin, connective tissue and bone.

Vitamin C deficiency can cause disorders in the healing of wounds. That's why people with injuries or wounds have a higher need of vitamin C, as well as athletes, smokers, diabetics and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Ascorbic acid fights stress and protects the cells from the effects of ageing.

What is vitamin C?

  • Vitamin C, whose chemical name is ascorbic acid, is one of the vital substances, essential to the organism.
  • Since the body cannot produce vitamin C naturally, we need to consume it on a regular basis to stay healthy.
  • Vitamin C is essential for the formation and maintenance of collagen, the main component of the skin, connective tissue, and bones.
  • It is an antioxidant and protects cells and tissues from the attacks of free radicals and aggressive molecules.
  • Ascorbic acid strengthens the immune system in two ways: it promotes the creation of antibodies and is used by white blood cells as a defence against viruses and bacteria.
  • A severe deficiency of vitamin C can have serious consequences, such as causing scurvy, the ancient sailor's disease.
  • It is mainly found in fruits and vegetables, but is very sensitive to light and oxygen.

Effects of vitamin C

Without enough vitamin C, white blood cells, or leukocytes, cannot repel infections. And neither can the body create the skin, hair, connective tissue or bones, since vitamin C is involved with the basic coenzyme in the formation of collagen.

Another of the essential functions of vitamin C, is that it is a powerful antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals and inhibits the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. It also helps in the recovery of iron needed by the body and moreover, it has been proven to combat stress.

Vitamin C is especially recommended in the following cases:

  • Infectious diseases
  • Cancers
  • Injuries and serious operations
  • Burns
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • People with iron deficiency anaemia
  • Stress
  • Doing sports
  • When consuming nicotine, alcohol, or medications (antibiotics, aspirin, contraceptives)
  • When there is a deficiency of vitamin C due to malnutrition or dialysis
  • To prevent the onset of atherosclerosis, osteoporosis or cardiovascular diseases
  • During pregnancy and lactation

What food contains vitamin C?

Vitamin C is included in practically all vegetables. Acerola cherries, rosehips and sea buckthorn have a very high concentration of ascorbic acid in particular. However, the food products that contain the greatest amounts of vitamin C are blackcurrant, guava, kiwi, peppers, citrus, parsley and cabbage.

Due to its high sensitivity to light and oxygen, the vitamin C content may be completely lost shortly after storing the food.

How does a vitamin C deficiency show up?

Bleeding of the gums and loss of teeth (scurvy)

  • Depressed mood
  • Mood swings and emotional instability
  • Weakness of the immune system
  • Frequent colds
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Slow healing of wounds
  • Connective tissue damage
  • Muscle damage

Vitamin C, dosages and uses

Experts are not in agreement on the required daily dose of ascorbic acid. Since it has preventive properties for so many diseases, it is even more difficult to recommend a precise dose. The daily dose for adults ranges from the 200 to 250mg a day.

But occasionally 1000mg are recommended for some diseases or when the individual is suffering from excessive physical deterioration. Therefore, it is very difficult for consumers to provide these quantities exclusively through the fruits and vegetables. To obtain 1000mg of vitamin C, we would have to eat around 10 kiwis or approximately 650 grammes of parsley. This is why taking a vitamin C dietary supplement is a very useful alternative.

Who is vitamin C especially important for?

  • People who suffer from gum disease or bleeding gums
  • People with injuries or burns
  • Pregnant or lactating women
  • Diabetics
  • Athletes
  • People who have a greater need for vitamin C due to stress, smoking, alcohol, or drugs
  • Cancer patients
  • People with a weak immune system
  • Those who need to heal wounds

According to experts on vitamin C:

1. Vitamin C protects against myocardial and cerebrovascular attacks

The evaluation of the Second Survey on Health and Nutrition (NHANESII) revealed that an increase in the intake of vitamin C significantly reduces the risk of suffering a myocardial or stroke attack. In addition, vitamin C also reduces cholesterol and elevated triglycerides.

2. Vitamin C can prolong life

Researchers from the University of Cambridge in England have discovered that vitamin C can prolong life. Clinical studies showed the greater the average concentration of vitamin C in the blood, the better health of that person.

3. Cancer prevention

The consumption of this substance on a regular basis is a weapon for protecting the body against cancer.