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VITAMIN C: A SHORT HISTORY

The Discovery of Vitamin C  - Why We Need It and Where to Get It.

It's hard to believe that less than 300 years ago Vitamin C was discovered. Prior to learning about its antioxidant powers and ability to prevent nutrient deficiencies, nearly two million sailors suffered from a disease called scurvy. Scurvy is a disease resulting from prolonged Vitamin C deficiencies. Those who suffered with scurvy experienced swollen joints, fatigue, inflammation and bleeding of the gums, loose teeth, anemia, small red or purple spots on the skin, joint pain and poor wound healing.

It wasn’t until the trial conducted by James Lind in 1747, that those with scurvy experienced some relief. Lind commenced a trial of six unique treatments for 12 sailors with scurvy. The results; oranges and lemons were effective in treating the disease. This is due to the fact that humans, unlike animals, are unable to synthesize their own Vitamin C. We require our various vitamins and minerals through whole food and supplementary sources. 

Further on down the road in 1928, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi was able to isolate a substance from the adrenal glands that he coined as “hexuronic acid.” Four short years later, Charles Glen King isolated Vitamin C in his laboratory and concluded that the chemical formula was the same as “hexuronic acid.” It was Norman Haworth that deduced the chemical structure of vitamin C in 1933.

Vitamin C is a water-soluble, nutrient powerhouse that serves as an antioxidant working to protect our cells against free radicals which we are exposed to on a daily basis. Vitamin C also plays an integral role in combating allergens and strengthening the immune system when it is under attack. When the body experiences an allergic reaction, the body and cells undergo oxidative stress. Supplementing with Vitamin C provides the body with the antioxidants it needs to fight the free radicals it has been exposed to and reduce allergy symptoms. Vitamin C, when combined with Vitamins A and E (as it is in Ener-C's multivitamin formula) is a crucial antioxidant that helps to strengthen our immune system and works to reduce inflammation. Inflammation can be recognized by its four cardinal red flags; redness, heat, swelling and/or pain. As the body enters into an inflammatory state, it is working to fight antigens and foreign pathogens - this occurs when the body perceives a threat from external sources. By decreasing inflammation, Vitamin C works to support our body’s adaptive immune system and immunity. The antioxidant works to help the body to produce collagen, L-carnitine and neurotransmitters that boost cognitive function and memory. It also enhances wound healing and aids in the absorption of iron, another important mineral. Vitamin C also plays an integral part in the production of collagen,  connective tissue that makes up 1-2% of muscle tissue and is responsible for the elastic, pliable and durable nature of one’s skin. Collagen utilizes Vitamin C to aid in the formation of fibrous tissues such as tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage, bones, blood vessels and gastrointestinal organs. Vitamin C’s requirement for the formation of collagen also attributes to its ability to increase wound healing time. The more Vitamin C the body has access to, the more collagen it can produce to heal the wound, thus reducing recovery times. A lack of Vitamin C means that collagen cannot be replaced, which can also lead to tissue breakdown. 

All of this goes to say that there are dozens of healthy, whole food based sources where one can obtain their daily dose of Vitamin C. Fruits and vegetables such as lemons, oranges, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, guava and chillies are only a handful of delicious food sources one can reach to. Another solidifying resource for Vitamin C is Ener-C, a Vitamin C and Multivitamin supplement that provides 1000 mg of Vitamin C in each packet. Simpy mix with water, or blend it into your smoothie, to reap all the benefits that Vitamin C has to offer! 

Gone are the days of worrying about bleeding gums, loose teeth and joint stiffness. Now we can simply sip and eat our way to better health! 

-By Lindsay Mustard. Lindsay is a Holistic Nutritionist, firefighter-in-training and recipe-wizard with a burning passion for health and fitness. In her nutrition practice, Lindsay works with clients to craft a unique plan that is tailored to their specific health goals using a natural, whole food and supplement approach.

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