Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary for normal growth and development.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need a continuous supply of such vitamins in your diet.
Ascorbic acid; Dehydroascorbic acid
Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to:
- Form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
- Heal wounds and form scar tissue
- Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals.
- Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.
- The buildup of free radicals over time is largely responsible for the aging process.
- Free radicals may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.
The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own, and it does not store vitamin C. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.
For many years, vitamin C has been a popular remedy for the common cold.
- Research shows that for most people, vitamin C supplements or vitamin C-rich foods do not reduce the risk of getting the common cold.
- However, people who take vitamin C supplements regularly might have slightly shorter colds or somewhat milder symptoms.
- Taking a vitamin C supplement after a cold starts does not appear to be helpful.
Review Date: 02/15/2011
Reviewed By: Alison Evert, MS, RD, CDE, Nutritionist, University of Washington Medical Center Diabetes Care Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.