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Vitamin C (a.k.a. Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbate) Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy This well-known vitamin is important in the maintenance of collagen, the protein which holds most of the soft tissues of the body together. Along with B6, it is also vital to the utilization of amino acids. It enhances the absorption of iron from vegetable sources. It inhibits the synthesis of nitrosamines, compounds implicated in cancer. Fruit sources are citrus fruits, fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapples and guava. Vegetable sources are broccoli, Brussel sprouts, tomatoes, spinach, kale, green peppers, cabbage and turnips. Regular intake of vitamin C insures health of the soft tissues of the body and perhaps an ounce of cancer protection. There is ample research evidence that substantial doses of vitamin C, taken regularly over the course of years, prolong a person's life expectancy by lowering the probability of vascular disease. (The same is true of vitamin E.)

For all except four mammalian species, ascorbic acid is not a vitamin, because they make their own abundant supply. Man is one of the four exceptions. Of the four enzymes necessary to make vitamin C, man has the first three. Somewhere in our evolution, we lost that fourth enzyme, and ascorbic acid became a vitamin for us — we have to obtain it from our diet. Animals make that amount of vitamin C which would be the equivalent of four grams (4,000 mg.) daily for an average size human.

While the U. S. government RDA (recommended daily allowance, some say "recommended deficiency allowance") is 60 mg., this is merely the amount which will prevent death from scurvy. Optimal health requires the higher dose levels. This enzymatic defect in humans undoubtedly accounts for a shorter life span than we were designed to have.

One of the many functions of ascorbic acid in human biochemistry is to regenerate oxidized vitamin E which, in turn, serves to protect cell walls from oxidative damage.

The ascorbate form of ascorbic acid is the form which is effective in the treatment of colds and flu. Do not bother trying to treat a cold or flu with ascorbic acid. It will not work. The L- form is the bioactive form of vitamin C. The D-form is just so much stuff the body must get rid of. Synthetic ascorbic acid contains equal amounts of L- and D- forms. Natural sources of vitamin C contain only the L- form. Read the label to know what you are getting. If it is not specified otherwise, assume it to be synthetic. If it doesn't say "ascorbate," assume it to be ascorbic acid.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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