Vitamin C : All about ascorbic acid

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is present in large quantities in the body. As the latter does not know how to synthesize or store it, it is essential to provide enough for daily use to stay healthy. Vitamin C, best known for its antioxidant power, has many roles in the body.

Characteristics of vitamin C:

  • Called ascorbic acid
  • Found in fruits and vegetables
  • Helps to fight oxidation and strengthen the immune system
  • Works in synergy with vitamin E, selenium and zinc
  • promotes the absorption of iron

Why eat foods rich in vitamin C?

Vitamin C: roles and benefits in the body

Antioxidant

Vitamin C has a powerful antioxidant power. Combined with other antioxidant molecules such as vitamin E, selenium or zinc, it neutralizes excess free radicals in the body. As a result, ascorbic acid protects against oxidative stress and premature cell aging. This antioxidant action is also involved in the protection of the body against certain diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases or neurodegenerative diseases.

Brain function

Vitamin C allows the production of neurotransmitters in the brain: dopamine, norepinephrine, adrenaline, etc. It is therefore essential for proper brain function. In addition, its ability to fight oxidation could be useful in preventing the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s for example).

Immune system

The concentration of vitamin C is particularly important in the cells that provide the body’s immune defences. Indeed, it participates in the production and renewal of white blood cells and thus allows the body to defend itself against internal and external pathogens.

20 fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Foodstuffs Portions of food (mg)
Guava 125 ml (1/2 cup) 199 mg
Red pepper, raw or cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 101-166 mg
Green pepper, raw or cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 54-132 mg
Papaya ½ papaya (150 g) 94 mg
Kiwi 1 medium fruit (75 g) 71 mg
Orange 1 medium fruit 70 mg
Orange juice 125 ml (1/2 cup) 43-66 mg
Mangoes 1 medium fruit (200 g) 57 mg
Broccoli, raw or cooked 125 ml (1/2 cup) 42-54 mg
Cooked Brussels sprouts 4 cabbages (85 g) 52 mg
Strawberries 125 ml (1/2 cup) 52 mg
Pink or white grapefruit juice 125 ml (1/2 cup) 36-50 mg
Cooked kohlrabi 125 ml (1/2 cup) 47 mg
Pink or white grapefruit ½ grapefruit 42 mg
Vegetable juice 125 ml (1/2 cup) 35 mg
Pineapple 125 ml (1/2 cup) 34 mg
Cantaloupe 125 ml (1/2 cup) 31 mg
Carambola 1 medium fruit (90 g) 31 mg
Raw green peas 125 ml (1/2 cup) 31 mg
Cooked cauliflower 125 ml (1/2 cup) 29 mg

How to use vitamin C properly?

Use of vitamin C

Daily requirements in natural vitamin C

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)
Babies 0-6 months 40 mg* 40 mg*
Babies 7-12 months 50 mg* 50 mg*
Babies 1-3 years old 60 mg
Children 4-8 years old 75-90 mg
Boys 9-13 years old 100 mg
Girls 9-13 years old 100 mg
Boys 14-18 years old 110 mg
Girls 14-18 years old 110 mg
Men 19-70 years old 110 mg
Women 19-70 years old 110 mg
Men 70 years and over 110 mg
Women 70 years and over 120 mg
Pregnant women 120 mg
Nursing Women 130 mg

For smokers, vitamin C requirements are increased, it should be at least 130 mg per day.

Dietary supplements based on ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid is found in many food supplements. Most of these supplements contain 1000 mg of vitamin C. They are often recommended for their antioxidant role and to stimulate the immune system. The dosage of 1000 mg is to be respected because beyond that there is a risk of overdose. In all cases, seek the advice of a doctor.

Adverse effects of ascorbic acid

Consequences of vitamin C deficiency

True vitamin C deficiency is responsible for scurvy. It is extremely rare nowadays in developed countries but can induce edema and bleeding that can cause death if not treated quickly. Vitamin C deficiency is much more frequent and can lead to fatigue, general asthenia, a tendency to get sick easily or a loss of appetite.

Consequences of a vitamin C dose higher than 1000 mg

The recommended maximum intake of vitamin C is 1000 mg in addition to the recommended intake of 1100 mg for healthy adults. Beyond this dose, vitamin C can promote the formation of kidney stones from oxalates, hemochromatosis or the occurrence of digestive disorders (diarrhea, stomach cramps, etc.).

Interactions with other nutrients

The presence of vitamin C-rich foods during a meal increases the assimilation of iron contained in the same meal. It is interesting to combine sources of vitamin C and iron.

Vitamin C acts in synergy with vitamin E, selenium and zinc and helps to fight oxidation in the body.

Chemical properties

The crude formula of vitamin C is C6H8O6, its molecular weight is 176.1241 g/mol. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is extremely sensitive to heat and light, making it extremely fragile in the kitchen. In the body it is found as ascorbic acid or sodium or calcium ascorbates. Ascorbic acid is a reducing diacid with high antioxidant potential.

Vitamin C is a very active enzyme cofactor involved in many metabolic reactions: hydroxylation, carnitine synthesis, collagen synthesis, etc.

History of the event

History of the nutrient

The name ascorbic acid comes from the Greek and means “anti-scorbut”, scorbut being a disease linked to a deficiency in vitamin C and whose symptoms have been known since the 13th century. It was not until the 1700s that scientists realized that lemons could cure the disease. In the 1930s, vitamin C was first synthesized by W. N. Haworth, who received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his essential discovery. Since then, the roles of vitamin C in the body have been the subject of interesting scientific discoveries.