Vitamin C Physiology, Metabolism, and Deficiency

You must have seen a sachet of juice with the inscription "Contains vitamin C", or maybe you have seen cereal adverts and the main vitamin hammered on is vitamin C, or you start to wonder why your neighbor is always buying a vitamin C tablet from the pharmacy, well, to satisfy your curiosity on what vitamin C really is, I will be explaining what you need to know about it.

Before I continue, Let me see if I still remember that vitamin B1 is Thiamine, vitamin B2 is Riboflavin, vitamin B3 Niacin (Nicotinic acid), vitamin B5 (Pantothenic), vitamin B6 is Pyridoxine, vitamin B7 is Biotin, vitamin B9 is Folate, vitamin 12 is Cobalamin and vitamin C is ascorbic acid. Vitamins are organic micronutrient, needed by the body to function properly, and stay healthy. Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C), which is basically ingested into the body from fruits such as orange, grape, tomatoes, pepper, broccoli, cabbage, as well as intravenously, via IV fluid, and supplementation, functions as a reducing agent in the human body, facilitator of iron absorption, and synthesis of carnitine. It should be known that L-ascorbic acid is active in preventing and treating vitamin C deficiencies, while D-Ascorbic Acid is inactive in preventing and treating vitamin C deficiency. This is why vitamin C is often referred to as L-Ascorbic Acid.

vitamin C Absorption

Vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins that get into the stomach, and then moved into the small intestine where it is absorbed into the bloodstream at the Distal small intestine (ileum), with the help of the carrier SVCT1 (sodium-dependent vitamin C transporter 1). Vitamin C also moves freely in the bloodstream, and get absorbed into the lumen of the Gastrointestinal Tract (GIT). It is transported to the tissues and the adrenal gland. Vitamin C isn't a fat soluble, so it isn't going to be stored in the liver. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it isn't stored in the liver when not used up in their needed areas (not consuming vitamin C in a very long time could lead to scurvy symptoms since it isn't stored in the body). They are sent to the kidney via the renal artery as Oxalic acid, then transported to the cortex of the kidney. The vitamin C is then moved to the urinary tubules in the kidney, which is then removed from the body.

The average vitamin C found in a healthy adult's plasma is within 40 to 65 micro meters. Consuming excessive amount of vitamin C could lead to Calcium Oxalate Kidney Stone. Humans cannot synthesize vitamin C, so it has to be consumed.

Metabolism of vitamin C

No matter how vitamin C is gets into your body, you need to always know that it is an antioxidant, which helps to combat free radicals which are oxygen containing molecules, formed naturally in the body as byproduct of metabolism, causing damages to cells, causing oxidative stress in the process of trying to get electron to stabilize itself. Vitamin C as an antioxidant provide electrons for the free radicals, as well as help stabilizing vitamin E. vitamin C helps with iron absorption by converting ferric to ferrous.

Vitamin C is important in activating Collagen producing enzyme. The hydroxylation of proline and lysine residue initiates collagen synthesis. Collagen can be found in Ligaments, Tendons, Cartilage, skin, blood vessels, bones, and in so many different places in the body. Vitamin C help in fibroblast and osteoblast formation, helping in connective tissues and stronger bones. Vitamin C hydroxylate Dopamine into Norepinephrine, Tyrosine to Homogentisic acid, Tryptophan to Serotin, and helps in Oxidation reduction reaction.

vitamin C Deficiency

With vitamin C, taking excessive or not having enough could lead to deficiencies. Having less vitamin C causes Scurvy, while too much vitamin causes hypervitaminosis. Patients who have Scurvy, would experience swollen gums, bleeding gums, gum hypertrophy, easy bruising, corkscrew hair, delay in wound healing, capillary fragility, iron deficiency anemia, parafollicular hemorrhage. Excessive vitamin C causing hypervitaminosis causing calcium oxalate kidney stones, increasing iron toxicity, and permanent Diabetes as a result of pancreatic damage.

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