Vitamin C is essential for humans because it has several critical functions as an enzyme cofactor and an antioxidant (Carr & Frei, 1999).
As an enzyme cofactor, vitamin C is involved with
- Synthesis of collagen and carnitine,
- Metabolism of dopamine, cholesterol, steroids and tyrosine.
Vitamin C is a potent water-soluble antioxidant and helps maintain DNA, proteins, lipids, enzymes and other antioxidants in their “normal” (reduced) form. It does this by scavenging oxygen and nitrogen free radicals and reducing metal ions.
When cells are stressed, the concentration of vitamin C increases inside the cells to protect them from damage. A regular intake of vitamin C is needed to keep replenishing the cells so that they can perform essential functions and repair cellular damage (Agus, et al., 1999).
Vitamin C works together with other antioxidants such as glutathione, lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10 and vitamin E to maintain a continual antioxidant supply that protect cells against excessive free radicals (Packer & Colman, 1999).
Vitamin C is useful in conditions where oxidative stress is a contributing factor to the pathology.
The information provided here is only for general reference and cannot replace personalised professional medical advice from a doctor. You are welcome to discuss any points during your consultation with our doctors.
- Agus DB, et al. (1999). Stromal cell oxidation: a mechanism by which tumors obtain vitamin C. Cancer Res. 59: 4555-4558.
- Carr AC, Frei B. (1999). Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 69: 1086-1107.
- Packer L, Colman C. (1999). The Antioxidant Miracle. Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.