Vitamin C // Ascorbic Acid

Vitamin C Benefits

Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen, an important structural component of connective tissue, blood vessels, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, gums, skin, teeth and bones.

Vitamin C also plays an important role in the synthesis of the neurotransmitter, ‘norepinephrine’, critical to brain function and known to affect mood. 

Research also suggests that vitamin C is involved in the metabolism of cholesterol to bile acids, which may have implications for blood cholesterol levels and the incidence of gallstones (3).

Vitamin C is a highly effective antioxidant. Even in small amounts vitamin C can protect essential molecules in the body such as proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) from damage by free radicals (reactive oxygen species) that can be generated during normal metabolism as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants (e.g., smoking). Vitamin C may also be able to regenerate other antioxidants such as vitamin E (2).

Furthermore, vitamin C plays an essential role in immune function, which is impaired by insufficient supply and re-established through supplementation (65, 66). It exerts its effect via the promotion of T-cell maturation (67) and for the circulating immune cells, which have 20 to 60 times higher vitamin C concentration than the surrounding plasma (68, 69), it improves the motility of the neutrophil leukocytes (70, 71).

In addition, vitamin C is required for the synthesis of carnitine, a small molecule that is essential for the transport of fat to cellular mitochondria for conversion to energy (2)

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (72), which provides scientific advice to assist policy makers, has confirmed that clear health benefits have been established for the dietary intake of vitamin C in contributing to:

  • the protection of cell constituents from oxidative damage;
  • normal collagen formation and the normal function of blood vessels, skin, bones, cartilage, gums and teeth;
  • the increase of non-heme iron absorption;
  • the normal function of the nervous system;
  • a normal function of the immune system;
  • normal energy-yielding metabolism;
  • the maintenance of the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise;
  • the regeneration of the reduced form of vitamin E;
  • normal psychological functions;
  • the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

Authored by Dr Peter Engel in 2010, reviewed and revised by Dr. Volker Elste on 22.05.2017