Why Does My Body Need Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is good for us. But do you know why? Vitamin C is essential in the body’s production of collagen. Collagen is a part of the connective tissue through our bodies — it helps connect skin, bones, teeth, tendons, ligaments, organ tissue, and cartilage. Collagen makes up the separating layer between cells.

But vitamin C does so much more than that! Vitamin C helps protect fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A and vitamin E. Vitamin C also helps protect essential fatty acids from oxidation. This vitamin is also useful in treating iron-deficiency anemia.

Vitamin C is perhaps most famous for preventing scurvy. A lack of vitamin C causes bleeding and inflammation of the gums, loose teeth, poor wound healing, easy bruising, joint pain, muscle wasting, and other problems. In the 1700s, a Scottish physician suggested fresh vegetables and ripe fruits as a preventative measure against scurvy. Because vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, the British Navy earned the nickname “limeys” — the limes they carried on long voyages helped ward off scurvy.

Citrus fruits aren’t your only good source of vitamin C, although they are top on the list. Limes, oranges, and grapefruit are high in vitamin C. Vegetables like tomatoes, green peppers, and potatoes are also great sources of vitamin C.

Vitamin C is easily damaged during food preparation — exposure to air, cooking or boiling, and being submerged in water can steal vitamin C from your meal. However, vitamin C is very abundant, and enough usually remains after processing to get you your recommended daily allowance. Vitamin C is sometimes used as an inexpensive preservative in processed foods, which can make it even easier to get your recommended daily allowance.

The RDA of vitamin C is between sixty and ninety milligrams per day; in general, men require more vitamin C than women do. Smokers should try to consume an extra 35 milligrams of vitamin C daily, as smoking depletes vitamin C levels in the body.