Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, may be the most familiar of all the nutrients. It is a water-soluble vitamin that functions as an essential co-factor in numerous enzymatic reactions necessary for normal growth and development. As the body is not able to make or store Vitamin C, it is therefore important to include plenty of Vitamin C rich foods in our daily diet to ensure continuous supply of this vitamin.
It is required to produce collagen, a protein that plays a critical role in the structure of our bodies. Collagen is the the framework for our skin and bones. Vitamin C is also necessary to make certain neurotransmitters that signals commands, thoughts and feelings to our brain and throughout our nervous system. In particular, our body need Vitamin C to produce serotonin, a hormone that plays a critical role in wide variety of body systems.
It is also one of the best known antioxidant that block damages caused by free radicals. Free radicals are produced when the body breaks down food or when it is exposed to radiation and tobacco smoking. The buildup of free radicals is largely responsible for the aging process. It plays a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.
Vitamin C has an interesting ability as an antioxidant to transform iron into a state that is better absorbed by the intestine.
IMPACT OF COOKING, STORING AND PROCESSING ON VITAMIN C
The Vitamin C content of food will start to decline as soon as it is picked. Cooling or freezing the food can slow down or minimize loss. Long term storage of vegetables can cost a significant amount of Vitamin C. Canning is even more detrimental. While cooking will lower the amount of vitamin C in most foods, the loss will vary widely by cooking method though microwaving and steaming may reduce cooking losses. The best food sources of Vitamin C are uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables.
You might want to consider increasing these foods rich in Vitamin C to your diet:
Find out more about Vitamin C Deficiency and Poisoning.