In the 18th century, sailors accidentally discovered that by sucking on lemons they could prevent scurvy. This disease often develops during long voyages when supplies of fresh fruits and vegetables are not available. In 1928, the key nutrient of lemon was discovered and named ascorbic acid because of its capacity to fight scurvy or anti-scorbutic action which is another name for vitamin C.

Vitamin C provides a number of health benefits to the human body. These include the following:

* It reduces the severity and length of colds and flu. It is good to take vitamin C at the start of the cold or flu to keep the illness from developing fully and thereby resulting in faster recovery.

* Wounds heal at a faster rate and minimize bruising. Vitamin C assists in repair and maintenance of the body by reinforcing cell walls and strengthening blood vessels called capillaries. It also stops inflammation.

* It makes gums healthy. Daily intake of vitamin C protects the tissue of the gums against cell damage and makes healing faster. It is best taken with flavonoids. Brushing gums with vitamin C powder can minimize inflammation and bleeding.

* Enhances resistance to heart disease by improving cholesterol levels. Low levels of vitamin C cause a greater risk of angina and heart attacks. If taken with vitamin E, it protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation preventing plaque buildup in coronary arteries.

* It prevents certain cancers. Its antioxidant properties are valuable in fighting cancer by protecting healthy cells from free-radical damage and impeding the spread of cancer cells.

* It protects against cataracts. Vitamin C prevents damage to the eye due to ultraviolet (UV) light and cigarette smoke.

* It relieves allergies, eczema, sinusitis, and asthma. Vitamin C contains a natural antihistamine which blocks the effect of inflammatory substances produced to counter allergens.

* It improves memory. It is vital in maintaining healthy nerve cells and is combined with vitamin E, mixed carotenoids, Ginkgo Biloba, and coenzyme Q10 to treat memory loss.

* It combats chronic fatigue syndrome. If mixed with carotenoids, it strengthens the immune system.

* It controls gallstone formation by lowering bile cholesterol levels.

* It fights the effects of aging. If combined with other antioxidants such as vitamin E and flavonoids, vitamin C may counter the aging process.

Vitamin C comes in tablet, powder, liquid, and capsule formulations. The recommended intake for vitamin C for men and women who don’t smoke is 60 mg a day. For smokers, 100 mg. per day. Just 10 mg of vitamin C is enough to prevent scurvy. But less than 50 mg may lead to an increased risk of heart attack and cataracts.

Excessive vitamin C intake is not always possible because this vitamin is water-soluble and is eliminated in the urine and feces in 12 hours. There are other people though that may suffer from mouth ulcers, diarrhea, gas, and bloating at 2,000 mg doses.

To gain more benefits from vitamin C, take it with antioxidants. Flavonoids also increase the benefits of vitamin C. For general health, take 500 mg a day. For treatment, take 1,000 to 6,000 mg per day. Split the dose beyond 1,000 mg into three or more doses per day. Large doses of vitamin C may impede the absorption of copper and selenium. If you have hemochromatosis, don’t take more than 500 mg a day of vitamin C. It can cause inaccuracy of medical tests for colon cancer and hemoglobin levels.

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