By far the most well-known role of vitamin C is its essentiality in formation of collagen and other fibrous tissue. Collagen is the main supportive protein of skin, tendon, bone, teeth, cartilage and connective tissue; whenever tissue has to grow, develop or repair itself after injury, a collagenous intracellular matrix must be set down to hold everything together and if vitamin C is not present in adequate quantities, this matrix is not set down.
A prolonged deficiency of vitamin C will deteriorate structures already present, so just about all the tissues in the body depend on vitamin C for proper growth, development and maintenance.
Vitamin C and Cancer
Vitamin C´s effect on resistance to cancer has been investigated for decades, since the 1950´s German doctors were able to report that the tumors frequently stopped growing when patients took doses ranging from 0.5 to 2 grams. British doctors reported “significant benefits” during the same decade.
Dr. Ewan Cameron points out that many of the physiological symptoms of scurvy closely resemble what happens in cancer. For cancer to spread, the “ground substance” which separates the cells must weaken and deteriorate. The amount of collagen present in tissue often determines that tissue´s resistance to cancer. Collagen fibers actually dissolve in the vicinity of invasive cancer cells.
Vitamin C may also help increase the body´s resistance to cancer by allowing the tumor to be encapsulated by a tough wall of collagen.
The body´s immune system is also important to resisting cancer; many researchers believe that one of the functions of the immune system is to destroy cancer cells before they become a significant danger to the body. As we´ve seen, vitamin C can have a powerful effect on boosting the power of the immune system.
Several studies have established a definite relationship between vitamin C intake and incidence of cancer. Numerous researchers report that people with gastric cancer tend to have diets lower in vitamin C and in foods containing vitamin C such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Doctors and researchers are demonstrating that vitamin C plays a vital role in treating cancer and preventing it in healthy people. They are proving that cancer patients definitely need a lot more vitamin C that they are presently getting in their diet and they are making it more and more plain that perhaps the rest of us should get more than we´re getting by increasing vitamin C-rich foods in our diets.
Vitamin C and Arthritis
Several studies have demonstrated a potential place for vitamin C in the treatment of arthritis. One study found that low vitamin C levels in the tissues increase the chances for and intensity of the allergic response, and that increased concentration of vitamin C could act as an anti-inflammatory agent.
Vitamin C and Fertility
A study in Japan showed that Vitamin C alone enabled 14% of women to ovulate, since the ovary is one of the sites in the body where vitamin C is concentrated.
Also a study of women who gave birth to babies with central nervous system defects found that these women had lower than normal levels of vitamin C in their bodies, this is because vitamin C facilitates the conversion of folic acid.
Vitamin C and Cardiovascular Disease
Vitamin C plays an important role in heart diseases; a study has shown that arteries with atherosclerotic lesions had much lower levels of vitamin C than arteries free of lesions.
Vitamin C lowers blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Vitamin C and diabetes
Diabetics in general have been found to have lower-than-normal levels of vitamin C in their blood. Giving 500 mg supplements of vitamin C daily to diabetics resulted in the decrease of blood cholesterol and triglycerides, since it improves the liver´s ability to metabolize cholesterol into harmless by-products.
Vitamin C and infections
Dr. Anderson´s experiments demonstrate that vitamin C has undeniable benefit for people with colds, and the vitamin helps the body fight off colds.
Vitamin C has shown to boost the activity of the lymphocytes, which are the white blood cells responsible for resisting infecting organisms, it has also been shown that vitamin C reverses the depression of the immune system.
It also boosts the body´s production of a natural antibacterial, antiviral substance called interferon; interferon also stimulates at least one other member of the infection-fighting team, the macrophages, which are large cells whose special function is to devour any invading cell.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN C
The richest natural sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupes, raw vegetables (especially peppers, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels, sprouts, turnip greens, cabbage, tomatoes, potatoes and green beans).
Source: Dominik Bosco´s People´s guide to Vitamins and Minerals; from A to Zinc