Vitamin C (otherwise known as ascorbic acid) is best known for preventing scurvy and supporting immunity but has a multitude of important functions in the body which are less well known.
Vitamin C is required for the synthesis of collagen and is therefore important for the health of connective tissue throughout the body.
It is a potent scavenger of damaging reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body and as such is one of the best known nutrient antioxidants. Since vitamin C is water-soluble it acts as an extracellular antioxidant, protecting cells and tissues from ROS that originate from outside of the cells, whether they are environmental toxins or endogenous ROS (those creating within the body as a result of normal metabolism, immune system activity etc). It also plays an important role regenerating reduced glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants and detoxifying molecules produced within the body.
Vitamin C is also required for normal functioning of the immune system. Vitamin C is required by white blood cells to maintain their health and ability to effectively fight off pathogens. It is also able to keep levels of inflammatory chemicals like histamine from becoming too high and may therefore have a role in controlling the symptoms of allergy.
The ability of the body to react to stress and protect itself from harmful effects is also dependent upon the availability of adequate amounts of vitamin C. It is used by the adrenal glands for the synthesis and release of stress hormones including adrenaline and cortisol.
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