Supplements: The Truth About Vitamin C
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Supplements: The Truth About Vitamin C

Should we get vitamin C naturally or take a supplement? This article helps people understand the function and composition of vitamins.

Taking into consideration the fact that the health supplement industry is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, its no wonder that health conscious consumers are questioning the benefits of some supplements. It makes good sense to analyze the efficacy of vitamins, minerals and other supplement products before you spend a fortune on something that your body cannot adequately use.  To address those questions it helps to know a little about the biochemical make-up of nutritional components and how they actually function.  Many nutrients like vitamin C are more effective when they are obtained through dietary means.

The Function of Vitamin C

Essential for human health, vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that is known for its antioxidant properties.  In addition, vitamin C plays a key role in literally hundreds of other biological processes, some of which are the healing of wounds, boosting the immune system, maintaining blood vessels and synthesizing adrenal hormones .

Humans and other primates do not manufacture vitamin C like many other mammals do so it is vitally important to consume vitamin C daily to maintain healthy levels.  Vitamin C is an unstable nutrient and only very small amounts are able to be stored in the human body. Because of its water solubility and instability, It is highly unlikely that a person could overdose on Vitamin C as excess amounts are easily eliminated through the excretory system.

The Composition of Vitamin C

Although the thorough analysis of nutrients requires an in depth study of biochemistry, many principles of how vitamins work can be adequately understood by the general public. The composition of vitamins is a synergistic combination of enzymes and co-enzymes.  Vitamin C that is naturally present in whole foods contains all of the necessary nutritional elements. Supplements, on the other hand, only contain a portion of the necessary components of Vitamin C needed to nourish the human body.

The Problem with Vitamin C Supplements

Ascorbic acid or its lesser acidic form, ascorbate, are the compounds most often sold as vitamin C in supplement form.  Although these compounds make up part of the vitamin C complex, they are far from complete. The vitamin C complex that is found in whole foods consists of a number of elements including:

Rutin

Bioflavonoids

Factor K

Factor J

Factor P

Tyrosinase

Ascorbinogen

Ascorbic Acid

When one of these elements such as ascorbic acid or ascorbate is ingested, the body must gather the other components in order for the vitamin to function biologically the way it is supposed to and produce the desired, beneficial effects. If the other components of the vitamin are not available, then the ascorbic acid circulates through the blood stream until it is finally excreted as waste.

How to get Vitamin C through Dietary Means

Vitamin C is a nutrient that, in many cases, works best in the presence of other vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Given this information, it makes sense to include lots of vitamin C rich foods in your diet daily. Some of the best sources of natural vitamin C are as follows:

• Green bell peppers

• Apples

• Citrus fruit

• Broccoli

• Berries

• Dark leafy greens

• Potatoes

• Tomatoes

As is true with many other nutrients, the best way to benefit from vitamin C is through the consumption of natural, whole, organic foods.

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Comments (2)

Excellent article. T'd & dugg.

What a waste...it seems that most of the vitamin C supplements we take daily just end up in our urine. Thanks for sharing this.

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