Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is required for at least 300 metabolic functions in the body including tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function and healthy gums. It speeds up wound healing, prevents many bacterial and viral infections and boosts the immune system to fight off coughs and colds. It reduces histamine production during an allergic attack and is crucial for the healthy growth of teeth, bones, ligaments and blood vessels. It boosts the absorption of iron from the digestive tract by up to 30%, lowers blood cholesterol levels and plays a role in the production of neurotransmitters (chemical messengers) in the brain. Cigarette smoking wipes an estimated 25-35 mg vitamin C out of the body every day and so smokers may need increased doses.
Signs of vitamin C deficiency: Scurvy is the best-known vitamin C deficiency disease, but this condition is rare in Western societies; bleeding gums, persistent allergies and recurring infections would all suggest a need for more vitamin C in the diet or through supplementation.