Vitamin C, A must take food ingredient

Vitamin C, A must take food ingredient

Noreen Fatima, Rahil Shahzad, Shakra Jamil, Dr. Sajid UR-Rahman, Dr. Muhammad Zaffar Iqbal

Agricultural Biotechnology Research Institute, AARI Faisalabad.


Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid, is very important for humans as well as for animals. It is water soluble and occur in many fruits and in vegetables. It is an important physiological antioxidant and helps to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol (also known as Vitamin E) in the body. Vitamin C play an important role in immune system and also helps in absorption of nonheme iron. Nonheme iron present in plant based foods.

Deficiency of vitamin C

In human body, liver produces vitamin C in body, but due to changes in the body with the passage of time, liver is unable to produce vitamin C in male due to presence of defective gene that does not produce the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase. This enzyme is important for conversion of blood glucose into Vitamin C in the liver. However less amount of vitamin C produces in the female’s body. Ascorbic acid also helps in formation and maintenance of collagen. Collagen helps in formation, repairing, holding of body tissue and wound healing.  Deficiency of vitamin C cause disturbance of collagen and led to the onset of the scurvy and also reduction in the iron absorption. Scurvy is rare disease in humans with more attack on the aged and those which do not intake fruits and vegetables in their diet.  Bleeding in gums and in eyes, loss of teeth, fever, diarrhea, rapid breathing, feeling of paralysis, discomfort in legs, weakness, swelling of hands and foots these all are the symptoms of scurvy disease. Scurvy is treated by orally or by injection of vitamin C.

Disease Prevention:

Vitamin C prevent our body from serious and fatal diseases as it is used for the treatment of viral hepatitis and viral liver diseases. At high doses it can destroy many types of viruses that cause the severe diseases in human body.  Ascorbic acid in large amount is good nontoxic diuretic. Excretion of urine is stimulated by the diuretic substance.

Skin treatment

When skin is exposed to UV light accidently it generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) finally leading to the aging of the skin.  Ascorbic acid also slows the aging process and removes the brown spots from skin. It helps in prevention against the skin cancer if taken in appropriate concentration.

Recommended intake

If ascorbic acid is consumed at the rate of 30-180 mg per day it will lead to the fulfillment of 70-90% body requirement of the ascorbic acid. If more than 1g per day is intake of ascorbic acid, its absorption is less than 50% as un-metabolized ascorbic acid is excreted in the urine. Human body is unable to store the large amount of ascorbic acid. The total amount of the Vitamin C stroed in the body varies from 300 mg to 2g, most of which is found in the cells and tissue especially in white blood cells, eyes, pituitary glands and in brain. Plasma, saliva and red blood cells maintain less amount of vitamin C.  90 mg per day of vitamin C for male and 75 mg per day of vitamin C is recommended for females, by the Health Canada in 2007. Smoker require approximately 35 mg more ascorbic acid than non-smokers.

Source of vitamin C

The amount of Vitamin C in the cereals is negligible. It only fulfills the caloric requirement of the body and continuous eating of cereals without supplementation with the fruits will lead to the development of Scurvy’s symptoms.  Fruits are rich source of vitamin C viz. guava, oranges, and strew berry and members of the citrus family. The availability of the Vitamin C decreases with the increase in the storage time so the fruits must be consumed in the fresh state to have its maximum availability. Further it is also noteworthy that the processing, cocking and heating of the fruits may also lead to the leaching of the vitamin C and most of its quantity goes wasted. So to maximize utilization of Vitamin C, the fruits and vegetables must be taken in fresh and unprocessed forms. Consumption of five different fruits and vegetables in a day give more than 200 mg of ascorbic acid and equalize the per day requirements of the human body as is mentioned in the table.

Table. Different fruits and vegetable and quantity of Vitamin C supplied per intake.

FoodMilligram per serving
Orange, 1 medium70
Strawberries, fresh, ½ cup49
Tomato juice, 5/4 cup33
Tomato, raw, 1 medium17
Grapefruit, ½ medium39
Green paper, sweet, raw, ½ cup60
Red paper, sweet, raw, ½ cup95


  • Carr AC, Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 1999; 69:1086-107.
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  • C. Willis. The Influence of Ascorbic Acid upon the Liver. Canadian Medical Association Journal, vol. 76: pp. 1044-1048. 1957.

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