What are vitamins?

Vitamins are a class of organic compounds that are essential for the normal growth and maintenance of a living organism that is not able to synthesize them. They are found in the food of the (heterotrophic) organisms, they even act when they are found in very small quantities and they have no caloric value. Their action lies in the regulation of the metabolic process and the energy transformations that occur in the body.

Vitamins are catalysts

Lack of a vitamin stops specific metabolic work and can change the metabolic balance in the body. Generally, vitamins are involved in energy transport and metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, are an essential part of biological membranes and play an important role in maintaining their functional integrity, act on a genetic level and control the synthesis of certain enzymes.

Complete or partial deprivation of one or more vitamins from the body causes various pathological conditions (avitaminosis or hypobitaminosis). Vitamins are distinguished in liposoluble (A, D, E, K) and hydrosoluble (complex B, C, P).

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, a natural organic compound with antioxidant properties, is a glucose derivative and takes part in metabolic processes mainly of animal organisms. It was isolated from the adrenal glands in 1928 by the biochemical Hungarian Nobel Prize winner Albert Zid Gjorgi and in 1932 a problem known as “nautical disease” was identified as a factor in the treatment of scurvy, characterized by gum bleeding, tooth loss, arthritis and slowing of wound healing, subcutaneously hematomas, bleeding of tissues and anemia.

Ability of Organic Synthesis of Vitamin C

Many organisms have the ability to produce vitamin C on their own. In particular, it is composed of all plants, seaweed, many vertebrates and some bacteria. Although most vertebrates can produce ascorbic acid, some of their groups, such as primates (including humans), guinea pigs, telluride fish, bats and birds can not produce it and it is necessary as a nutrient to their diet.

Why vitamin C is important for human health

Vitamin C :

  • is antioxidant, that is, it neutralizes the free radicals in the watery part of the tissues which are devastating and responsible for many serious diseases, including cancer and heart disease. In addition, it regenerates glutathione and vitamin E that has depleted while activating the enzymes that are looking for and destroying free radicals.
  • is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, thus contributing to tissue repair, wound healing and maintaining the health of tendons and ligaments.
  • contributes to the generation of antibodies, sufficient level of interferons and to the stimulation of white blood cells, thus enhancing the immune system
  • acts as an antihistaminic therefore protects against allergic reactions
  • has cardioprotective activity as it helps keep the arteries clean and supple, preventing the conversion of LDL cholesterol into a toxic form that is deposited on the walls of the arteries
  • improves vascular circulation
  • enhances capillaries and cell walls
  • reduces flu symptoms and shortens the duration of a disease
  • is important for preventing and improving asthmatic crises
  • is involved in hemoglobin production
  • helps in the absorption of iron and folic acid
  • participates in the production of thyroxine, epinephrine, norepinephrine, steroid hormones and blood cells
  • prevents the formation of cataract
  • helps maintain good bone and tooth condition
  • protects the lungs and the respiratory system in days with increased levels of contamination in the atmosphere
  • can add years to our lives
  • essential for skin care and protection from the sun’s rays
  • reduces the risk of developing kidney problems and cataract
  • reduces levels of lead in the blood
  • seems to prevent cartilage loss and aggravation of symptoms in people with osteoarthritis
  • can improve physical performance and muscle strength in older people
  • has remedial properties on aging skin, smoothing wrinkles, enhancing elasticity and giving skin care and shine

When Should One Take Vitamin C?

The answer is if:

  • You are a smoker, as each cigarette destroys about 25-100 mg of vitamin C.
  • You have flu or get sick often.
  • Have in your family a history of cancer or cardiovascular disease.
  • You have pressure or problems with your eyes such as cataracts and retinal degenerative disease.
  • Follow a diet or eat few fruits and vegetables.
  • If you exercise, work or participate in various activities that cause fatigue, anxiety and stress.
  • If you suffer from allergies.
  • If you have pressure, cholesterol or arteriosclerosis.


But what do the research say?

  • If vitamin C contains bioflavonoids, they increase the absorption of vitamin C by 50%. The pectin they contain has been shown to be beneficial in managing cholesterol levels within normal limits.
  • Those with the highest levels of vitamin C in their blood have 33% less chance of developing pancreatic cancer than those with lower levels of vitamin C.
  • Higher vitamin C intake by women results in a 65% reduction in risk for cervical cancer.
  • Research has shown that women taking vitamin C for more than ten years have a 42% reduced risk of developing breast cancer.
  • The risk for high blood pressure is 22% lower in subjects with high vitamin C intake, compared with people with lower vitamin C intake.
  • Men with the lowest levels of vitamin C in their blood have a 2.4 times higher risk of stroke compared to those with higher levels of vitamin C.
  • Epidemiological studies have shown that people with the highest levels of vitamin C in their blood (taking daily vitamin C) have a 50% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
  • Women taking vitamin C supplements have a 28% reduction in coronary artery disease compared to women who do not take vitamin C.
  • Men that consume the highest 1/3 daily vitamin C intake have a 66% lower risk of coronary artery disease than men at the lowest 1/3. This is true even after inclusion of various cardiovascular risk factors. This result is even more impressive, because many of the people studied were smokers.
  • A 10-year UCLA study showed that in a population of over 11,000 American adults aged 25-74, men who took 800 mg of vitamin C a day lived about six years longer than men who received only 60 mg of vitamin C day.
  • Taking 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day for just two weeks reduced the exhaustion of vitamin E caused by smoking by up to 50%.
  • The study on Age-Related Eye Disease (AREDS), funded by National Eye Institute, was a milestone study. The study showed that 500 mg of vitamin C two times a day, obtained with antioxidants with b-carotene, vitamin E and zinc, slows the development of the macula by about 25% and the visual acuity loss by 19% high risk for the disease. Scientific research, consisting of AREDS results and seven smaller studies, have confirmed these results.
  • A study showed that women who received vitamin C for 10 or more years showed a 64% reduction in the risk of developing a nuclear cataract. Researchers estimate that half of the cataract-related incidents could be avoided, delaying the onset of cataracts for 10 years.

Can everyone take vitamin C?

The answer is no. There are some situations where taking vitamin C can cause pathogenic disorders. Also the precise dosage to be taken by one varies from one organism to another. For this reason, in order to benefit from the beneficial properties of valuable vitamin C, it should be guided by health professionals. Functional Medicine, through its specialized examinations, can accurately reveal the needs of the body and accurately recommend the doses that one needs to have a complete shield against pathogenic conditions.





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