Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, is a water-soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties. It is found in citrus fruits, berries, cabbages, leafy vegetables and potato. It is also found in many food and nutritional supplements. Health benefits of this vitamin include prevention and treatment of scurvy (weakness, feeling tired, curly hair, and sore arms and legs, and if left untreated could lead to gum disease, reduction in number of red blood cells and excessive bleeding from the skin). It is also very useful in treating common cold, lead toxicity, curing cataracts, combating stroke, maintain elasticity of the skin, facilitates healing of wounds, controlling the symptoms of asthma, management of hypertension and there are reports that vitamin C helps in the treatment of Cancer (although, there are not explanations or proofs yet to such claims).
Vitamin C helps the body to clear cortisol, a hormone released in response to stress. Increase in cortisol levels could lead to increasing the period of wound healing in healthy men. This accounts for the use of vitamin C in facilitating healing of wounds because it reduces the level of cortisol in the body.. Also, cortisol increases blood sugar level and inhibits the effects of insulin, to prevent glucose from been stored, in response to stress and this increases one’s chances of having type 2 diabetes. It also narrows the blood vessels (increasing tension – hypertension). Reduction of cortisol levels by vitamin c under chronic stress conditions is beneficial in combatting chronic ailments such as Diabetes and hypertension.
Vitamin C, also as an antioxidant, helps to clear free radicals from the body. Free radicals increase a person’s chances of coming down with chronic ailments and are also linked with aging. Consuming Vitamin C reduces these radicals.
However, when Vitamin C is taken with ACT (Artemisinin Combination Therapy) medicines used for treating malaria, it reduces their effect. The ACTs are broken down in the body to form free radicals that help to fight against the malaria parasite. Vitamin C would clear these radicals from the body as well, and altering treatment.
Benzoic acid, in the presence of vitamin C, breaks down to produce Benzene, a potential cancer causing agent. Benzoic acid is used as a preservative in soft drinks and many other products. Therefore, it is advisable to not consume products containing vitamin C in excess as well as those containing benzoic acid as a preservative. Moderate consumption can be allowed, though.