The Versatile Antioxidant Vitamin

Slice an​ apple into half,​ and it​ turns brown. a​ copper penny suddenly becomes green,​ or​ an​ iron nail when left outside,​ will rust. What do all these events have in​ common? These are examples of​ a​ process called oxidation. if​ the​ sliced apple is​ dipped in​ a​ lemon juice,​ however,​ the​ rate at​ which the​ apple turns brown is​ slowed. it​ is​ because the​ Vitamin C in​ the​ lemon juice slows the​ rate of​ oxidative damage.

Since its discovery 65 years ago,​ vitamin C has come to​ be known as​ a​ “wonder worker.” Because of​ its role in​ collagen formation and other life-sustaining functions,​ Vitamin C serves as​ a​ key immune system nutrient and a​ potent free-radical fighter. This double-duty nutrient has been shown to​ prevent many illnesses,​ from everyday ailments such as​ the​ common cold to​ devastating diseases such as​ cancer.

The water-soluble vitamin C is​ known in​ the​ scientific world as​ ascorbic acid,​ a​ term that actually means “without scurvy.” we​ depend on​ ascorbic acid for many aspects of​ our biochemical functioning; yet human beings are among only a​ handful of​ animal species that cannot produce their own supply of​ vitamin C. Like these other animals,​ including primates and guinea pigs,​ we​ have no choice but to​ obtain this nutrient through food or​ our daily diet.

Vitamin C can enhance the​ body's resistance from different diseases,​ including infections and certain types of​ cancer. it​ strengthens and protects the​ immune system by stimulating the​ activity of​ antibodies and immune system cells such as​ phagocytes and neutrophils.

Vitamin C,​ as​ an​ antioxidant,​ helps reduce the​ activity of​ free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of​ normal metabolism which can damage cells and set the​ stage for aging,​ degeneration,​ and cancer. it​ shouldn’t come as​ any surprise that vitamin C is​ being used for cancer treatment. in​ large doses,​ Vitamin C is​ sometimes administered intravenously as​ part of​ cancer treatment.

Vitamin C prevents free radical damage in​ the​ lungs and may even help to​ protect the​ central nervous system from such damage. Free radicals are molecules with an​ unpaired electron. in​ this state,​ they're highly reactive and destructive to​ everything that gets in​ their way. Although free radicals have been implicated in​ many diseases,​ they are actually a​ part of​ the​ body chemistry.

As an​ antioxidant,​ vitamin C's primary role is​ to​ neutralize free radicals. Since ascorbic acid is​ water soluble,​ it​ can work both inside and outside the​ cells to​ combat free radical damage. Vitamin C is​ an​ excellent source of​ electrons; therefore,​ it​ “can donate electrons to​ free radicals such as​ hydroxyl and superoxide radicals and quench their reactivity.”

The versatile vitamin C also works along with glutathione peroxidase (a major free radical-fighting enzyme) to​ revitalize vitamin E,​ a​ fat-soluble antioxidant. in​ addition to​ its work as​ a​ direct scavenger of​ free radicals in​ fluids,​ then,​ vitamin C also contributes to​ the​ antioxidant activity in​ the​ lipids.

Optimal health,​ however,​ requires a​ balance between free radical generation and antioxidant protection. One of​ the​ functions of​ Vitamin C is​ to​ get and quench these free radicals before they create too much damage.

However,​ there is​ research to​ show that vitamin C may act as​ a​ pro-oxidant. in​ other words,​ vitamin C,​ under certain conditions anyway,​ may act in​ a​ manner that is​ opposite to​ its intended purpose. This has raised concern among thousands of​ people who supplement their diets with vitamin C...but that's another story.

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