Today, I wanted to talk broadly about the 13 essential vitamins and do a specific profile on Vitamin C, which is the most common vitamin taken in supplement form.
There are 2 types of vitamins, fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, E and K, and water-soluble vitamins include the B-vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12) and Vitamin C. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in the presence of water and are used immediately or excreted from the body. B12 is the only water-soluble vitamin that can be stored in the liver for several years. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's fat tissue and are absorbed through the small intestine.
Vitamin C, known as "ascorbic acid", is an antioxidant that fights free radicals that can lead to cancer, visible signs of aging, heart disease or arthritis over time. It is necessary for the maintenance and repair of cartilage, bones and teeth. Vitamin C promotes healthy gums and aids in the absorption of iron. As an example, vegetarians who have low iron levels are advised by many physicians to take an iron supplement along with a glass of orange juice. Vitamin C is also required for the production of collagen, which is necessary for healing wounds and creating tendons, ligaments and blood vessels.
Since the body can neither create nor store Vitamin C, it must be consumed on a daily basis, either through food sources or in supplement form. Excellent sources of dietary Vitamin C include many fruits and vegetables, including green peppers, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes and cantaloupes . Of course, there are many other excellent sources of fruits and vegetables within the entire color spectrum. My favorites are blueberries, raspberries and watermelon.
Vitamin C deficiency shows up typically in the poor condition of your hair, skin, gums and teeth. If your hair is splitting, your skin is dry and flaky or your gums are bleeding, you could be deficient in Vitamin C. If your wounds are slow to heal, your joints are painful and swollen or you bruise easily, this could also indicate Vitamin C deficiency. Try increasing your intake of Vitamin C through natural sources and/or through vitamin supplementation. And of course, always consult a doctor if necessary.
The amounts of Vitamin C that are recommended vary by age for children and teens and by sex for men and women, so read the labels carefully should you decide to supplement.
I will profile other vitamins in upcoming posts. Go to Wikipedia online for a ton of additional and more technical information about Vitamin C.