Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a well known vitamin that aids in the support of the immune system and can be found in all citrus fruits. It forms an important protein that is used to make skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels. It is also particularly useful in wound healing and the repair of bone, cartridge and teeth. It is an essential vitamin in the prevention of scurvy and it acts as an antioxidant in the body. It is also an important part of 8 enzyme reactions within the body. The body does not make or store vitamin C so it is important to make sure your intake of this vitamin is adequate. Many people take daily vitamin C supplements or increase their intake when suffering from a cold or flu. It comes in oral tables, capsules and tinctures, the most common of these being chewable tablets that taste like orange.
The discovery of Vitamin C
The need for vitamin C was known well before the vitamin was discovered. Many people died of scurvy, which is a severe lack of vitamin C, and numerous scientists and doctors worked to provide cures for the disease. James Lind is credited with being the first to understand that a particular aspect of citrus fruits could stop incidences of scurvy. He did not know that it was vitamin C, but he carried out research in 1747 to show that citrus fruits did stop the scurvy from developing. It was Lind’s work that was the basis for many of the other scientific investigations that led to the discovery of vitamin C. In 1907 Axel Holst and Theodor Frølich, two Norwegian physicians conducted research that showed the anti scorbutic factor. Albert Szent-Györgyi was the first to discover and isolated the chemical hexuronic acid. He along with other research scientists proved that it was the deprivation of this acid that was the cause of scurvy. In 1948 Albert Szent-Györgyi was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine “for his discoveries in connection with the biological combustion processes, with special reference to vitamin C and the catalysis of fumaric acid”.
Foods that contain vitamin C
- Citrus fruit such as oranges, limes, grapefruit and lemons
- Kiwi fruit
- Berries such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries