Vitamin C: Food sources, Digestion and absorption, Functions and Interesting Facts
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is also termed as the "fresh food vitamin" because fresh fruits and vegetables are its major sources.
Fresh citrus fruits (like orange, lime and lemon) and other fruits and vegetables like guava, amla, papaya, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, green chillies and capsicum are some of the excellent sources of Vitamin C. Root vegetables like potato and sweet potato contain small amounts of the vitamin and they contribute significant amounts only when consumed in large quantities. Cereals and pulses as such are poor in vitamin C but when sprouted and fermented become good sources. Animal foods like fish, meat, milk, poultry and eggs contain little or no ascorbic acid.
Fruits like amla, guava, green leafy vegetables and green chillies are examples of some of the cheap sources of Vitamin C. In fact, amla is the cheapest source and provides 20 times or more ascorbic acid as compared to the expensive citrus fruits.
Digestion and Absorption
Ascorbic acid is readily absorbed from the digestive tract and is then distributed to various body tissues. Organs and glands like the spleen, bone marrow, liver, pancreas, kidney and the retina of the eye have a high concentration of ascorbic acid.
- plays a role in healing of wounds
- aids in the absorption of iron (a mineral which plays a role in blood formation)
- helps to overcome conditions of injury, infection and other stresses and
- prevents destruction of certain substances present in the body as well as in some foodstuffs.
These are some of the interesting facts about the functions of Vitamin C. Wouldn't you like to know more about them? Let us now take each of the above mentioned functions and study them in some detail.
Wound healing: Vitamin C plays an important role in the formation of a special kind of protein called collagen. The formation of collagen at the site of wound or injury aids in its healing. This protein is found in the connective tissue which holds together different other tissues much like cement holds bricks together. For example, collagen present in blood vessels makes them firm. Deficiency of Vitamin C in the diet may result in fragile blood vessels which can easily rupture.
Healing with stress: Ascorbic acid plays an important role in the release of two hormones - epinephrine and norepinephrine - from the adrenal glands of the body. These hormones help the body to deal with stressful situations like day-to-day tensions, stresses of infections and injury.
Absorption of iron: Iron is an essential component of red blood cells. Vitamin C aids absorption of iron by converting it into a more suitable form for absorption.
- Protecting certain substances from destruction: Like Vitamin E, Vitamin C protects certain substances e.g. Vitamin A and unsaturated fatty acids from being destroyed.
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