Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)


Humans depend on the daily intake of vitamin C from food. If the vitamin is missing over a longer period of time, the deficiency disease scurvy develops. This seafaring disease has long been extinct with us, because through our food, the basic supply is covered. In certain times or situations, however, it is advisable to increase its vitamin C intake.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are essential substances that the body can not produce or only in insufficient quantity itself. They must therefore be supplied to the body through food from outside. By wrong or one-sided diet, however, the vitamin supply in large parts of the population is not assured. Many people have an increased need for vitamins - without knowing it!

While plants and most animals produce vitamin C in the body's own synthesis, humans, chimpanzees, guinea pigs, some birds and fish lack the messenger substance required for the formation of vitamin C.

What effect does vitamin C have?

  • Protection against free radicals - this makes a contribution to improved cell protection
  • Stimulation of the immune system - this reduces the risk of infection
  • Vitamin C is an important factor in the formation of collagen and in steroid synthesis
  • The iron intake from the food is improved
  • Vitamin C contributes to better detoxification with increased heavy metal or environmental pollution

How much vitamin C should it be every day?

With a vitamin C-rich diet, the body is about 50 to 100 milligrams a day available. However, preparation and storage destroy vitamin C. For example, cooked fruit and vegetables usually contain only half the amount of raw food available. The outside temperature also influences the vitamin C content considerably.

The German Society for Nutrition (DGE) recommends a daily dose of 110 milligrams for men and 95 milligrams for women.

However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends, as a guideline for an additional intake of vitamin C, such as dietary supplements, not to exceed a maximum of 250 milligrams per day.

Who has an increased need for vitamin C?

  • Pregnant women - the demand is about one and a half times higher during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Some smokers have up to 40 percent increased need for the vitamin.
  • In patients with gastric and small bowel ulcers, the intake of the vitamin may be impaired, as the transportation and utilization of the food by the ulcer are hindered.
  • Various medicines may also increase vitamin C consumption, such as contraceptives, antibiotics or analgesics.
  • People who are exposed to increased stress, professionally or privately
  • People with weakened immune systems
  • People who want to protect themselves from a cold
  • Diabetics also have an increased need of up to 30 percent
  • People who eat one-sidedly or with foods that are not freshly prepared
  • Competitive athletes and older persons
  • If you belong to one of these groups, you may want to take a vitamin C supplement in addition to your diet.

Valuable sources of vitamin C in the diet

Vitamin C occurs in all plants. Particularly high concentrations can be found in the following foods:

  • Peppers, potatoes, flowers and red cabbage, spinach, savoy cabbage, lamb's lettuce and tomatoes, broccoli. Parsley, sauerkraut
  • Rosehip, sea buckthorn and black currants
  • Citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries and apples

Vitamin C in fruits - © Johannes Rapp

Daily dose, equivalent

75 milligrams; included in

  • 7 grams of rosehip
  • 50 grams of pepper
  • 60 grams of broccoli
  • 80 grams of fennel or kale
  • 100 grams of cauliflower
  • 120 grams of tangerine, orange, lemon
  • 300 grams of tomatoes
  • 600 grams of apple

Vitamin C: properties

An essential part of the effect of vitamin C is based on its property as Reducing agent. As a result, ascorbic acid reacts with harmful elements before it can damage important active ingredients (including other vitamins).

Also at the Synthesis of various important substances (for example, hormones, bile acids, carnitine) vitamin C is involved. The positive effect on the immune system is undisputed and well known. Vitamin C is also involved in the formation of connective tissue, bones and teeth.


The most well-known deficiency phenomenon is probably the Scurvy. The disease is characterized by keratinization of the skin and bleeding of the mucous membranes and in the muscles. The formation of connective tissue is disturbed, delayed wound healing. This disease was formerly often seen by sailors, today it is observed only very rarely.

A relatively reduced intake of vitamin C leads more frequently to colds, to sleep disorders and depression and increases the tendency to form varicose veins and hemorrhoids.

Overdose with Vitamin C

Overdosage with vitamin C is not possible because excess ascorbic acid is excreted via the urine and at very high doses via the stool. That's why there are some well-known scientists who recommend megadoses (several grams) of vitamin C. However, the benefits are doubted in many places.

The only negative consequence of a long-term high intake may be due to the hyperacidity of the urine. Kidney stones can be the result.

Special about Vitamin C

The property of ascorbic acid, To protect various substances from decomposition has also been used in the preservation of food.

The iron absorption in the stomach is increased by the simultaneous intake of vitamin C (orange juice). The valence of iron is thereby changed, which improves the absorption.




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