Functions and Deficiency of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble compound commonly known as ascorbic acid and ascorbate which is present in citrus and other fruits and vegetables as well as being available as dietary supplements. The formation of collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles, and blood vessels depends on vitamin C, which also helps the body absorb iron.

Structure of Vitamin C


Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as other natural sources are rich in vitamin C. Indian gooseberry, citrus fruits like lime, orange, and lemons, tomatoes, potatoes, papaya, green and red peppers, kiwifruit, strawberries, and cantaloupes, as well as green leafy vegetables like broccoli, fortified cereals, and its juices are some of the richest sources of ascorbic acid.

Another sources of vitamin C is animals. They usually synthesized their own vitamins C and are highly concentrated in liver parts.

Sources of Vitamin C

Functions of Vitamin C

The human body depends on vitamin C for various physiological activities. All of the body’s tissues require it to be repaired. The production of protein, which is necessary for the development of skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, the maintenance and repair of cartilage, bones, and teeth, the formation of scar tissue, and the absorption of iron are just a few of vitamin C’s crucial roles in the body. For metal nanoparticles, it can also function as a reducing and capping agent.

  • As reducing and capping agents: For the creation of metal nanoparticles like silver, gold, copper, and other elements, ascorbic acid functions as a reducing and capping agent. By capping or encircling the particle, ascorbic acid molecules can prevent the uncontrolled development of the particles to micron-sized dimensions.
  • In cardiovascular diseases: Vitamin C’s antioxidant properties aid in the treatment of cardiovascular conditions. Vitamin C can improve endothelium-dependent nitric oxide generation and vasodilation, reduce vascular smooth-muscle-cell death, and decrease monocyte adhesion to the endothelium. These actions together decrease plaque instability in atherosclerosis. One of the main causes of cardiovascular disease is oxidative damage, especially oxidative alteration of low-density lipoproteins. This is somewhat mitigated by vitamin C’s antioxidant properties.

  • Antioxidant properties: The antioxidant activity of vitamin C is one of its key attributes. Vitamin C’s antioxidant action aids in the prevention of a number of illnesses, including cataracts, age-related muscle degeneration, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and the common cold.
  • Roles of vitamin C in skin health: Vitamin C, which is one of the top anti-aging compounds in the beauty industry which is the secret to giving oneself a clear, radiant complexion. In addition to being essential for the creation of collagen, a crucial molecule for enhancing the skin, Vitamin C’s abundance of antioxidant capabilities also support skin regeneration, which aids in the body’s ability to heal damaged skin cells.

  • Manages peripheral Arterial Diseases: PAD is a potentially fatal atherosclerotic disease that is accompanied by inflammation and oxidative stress. Vitamin C’s antioxidant content reduces disease severity and inflammation. Vitamin C, a water-soluble antioxidant, plays a crucial role in the cross-linking of collagen as well as eliminating free radicals from the body. The ability to create appropriate cross-links enables the artery walls to self-repair and return to normal.
  • In age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract: Cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) are two of the key factors in vision loss in older people. Both diseases’ etiologies could be influenced by oxidative stress. Thus, the significance of vitamin C and other antioxidants in the onset and management of various diseases has attracted the attention of researchers. Numerous studies have been done to determine how vitamin C affects AMD and cataracts. According to the findings of two studies, consuming more vitamin C than 300 mg per day reduces the risk of cataract formation by 75%.
  • In cancer treatment: There is no evidence that taking vitamin C supplements can reduce lung cancer risk in healthy humans or those who are already at high risk due to smoking or asbestos exposure. The risk of prostate cancer had no impact, according to a second meta-analysis. The impact of vitamin C supplementation on the risk of colorectal cancer was assessed by two meta-analyses. One discovered a tenuous link between vitamin C intake and lower risk, while the other discovered no benefit from supplementing. A second study found that vitamin C may be linked to improved survival in those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer, contrary to a 2011 meta-analysis that found no evidence to support the prevention of breast cancer with vitamin C supplementation. A 2015 meta-analysis found that high-dose vitamin C had no anticancer effects and did not improve indicators of quality of life.  

Deficiency of vitamin C

The insufficient amounts of vitamin C in our diet leads to a deficiency. Over time, a deficiency in vitamin C prevents the production of new collagen. This affects the health and repair of your body by causing numerous tissues to begin deteriorating. Scurvy is a condition caused by a persistent (chronic) vitamin C deficiency that typically lasts for three months or longer.

  • Weight gain

Early studies have discovered a connection between low vitamin C levels and increased levels of body fat, especially belly fat. The efficiency with which our body burns fat for energy may also be influenced by this vitamin.

  • Slow wound healing

Vitamin C is important for the healing process after an injury. It is required by our body to produce collagen, a protein that is involved in each stage of skin restoration. Additionally, vitamin C supports the healthy function of neutrophils, a kind of white blood cell that fights infection.

  • Dry and wrinkled skin

People who consume a healthy diet rich in vitamin C may have skin that is softer and smoother. One reason could be the antioxidant properties of vitamin C, which can help to insulate our skin from free radicals. These degrade proteins, lipids, and even DNA.

  • Vision loss

If we don’t get enough vitamin C, other antioxidants, and specific minerals, our age-related macular degeneration (AMD) may progress more quickly. Consuming enough vitamin C through diet may help prevent cataracts.

  • Scurvy

Scurvy is brought on by severe vitamin C deficiency. Newborn scurvy is uncommon since infant foods are supplemented with vitamin C and breast milk typically provides enough vitamin C. Scurvy is uncommon in the United States, however it can strike older persons who are underweight and those who have an alcohol use disorder.


Eating a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods from the food guide pyramid is the best approach to ensure that you get the daily requirements of vital vitamins, including vitamin C. Since vitamin C is not soluble in fat and cannot be kept for later use, it should be consumed daily.

 The following vitamin C dosages are advised by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine:

Infants and children

  • 0 – 6 months: 40 milligrams/day (mg/day)
  • 7 – 12 months: 50 mg/day
  • 1 – 3 years: 15 mg/day
  • 4 – 8 years: 25 mg/day
  • 9 – 13 years: 45 mg/day


  • Girls 14 – 18 years: 65 mg/day
  • Boys 14 – 18 years: 75 mg/day


  • Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
  • Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day
    Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those who smoke need higher amounts


A vital component of a nutritious, balanced diet is vitamin C. Since it is water-soluble and excreted from the body through urine, the risk of any negative consequences is very slightly increased. Vitamin C’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is 40 mg per day. 

              Higher quantities or levels of this extraordinary nutrient than recommended can result in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, heartburn, and headaches. Vitamin C overdose-related acute toxicity may also result in severe diarrhea gastrointestinal issues, and kidney stones.

            Therefore, in order to benefit, it is strongly advised to take vitamin C in the amounts recommended by your doctor or healthcare practitioner, either through food sources or supplements.



Sarmila K C

Welcome to The Science Notes! I'm Sarmila K C, a science writer with a background in Food Technology. My mission is to simplify complex scientific topics and make them accessible to everyone. I cover the various topics of science and explain them with clear, accurate information.

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