A Very “Vital Amine”
Nowadays, whenever people start telling me of their
ailments, I often find myself wanting to recommend
Vitamin C. To prevent a cold? Vitamin C. Deal with high
blood pressure? Vitamin C. Inflammation or infection
anywhere? C. Assist with wound healing? C. I am
starting to sound like a stuck record (showing my age!).
But what is the reason that this simple vitamin can
be such a panacea?
Vitamins are substances present in food that are
absolutely essential for regulating and catalysing many
biochemical processes in our bodies that are essential
for daily life. The term vitamin comes from Vital = Life
and Amine = amino acid which they were originally
thought to be.
Vitamin C, aka ascorbic acid, is a water soluble
anti-oxidant. Anti-oxidants are needed to counteract
the accumulation of free radicals produced from each
cell’s natural metabolic processes and for free radicals
formed from exposure to outside influences such as
diet, lifestyle and environmental pollution. Oxidative
stress caused by an excess of free radicals damages
the cells and tissues of the body and thus impairs their
correct functioning. Over an extended period of time,
if the body does not get a chance to heal, chronic
disease develops. The type of chronic illness that forms
depends on the tissue(s) affected.
One of the most common chronic diseases is
cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C has been shown
to lower risk factors for heart disease such as blood
pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This makes
sense as free radicals damage the endothelial lining of
blood vessels, cholesterol is laid down as a ‘band-aid’
to protect the wall, if the oxidative stress does not let
up , more and more cholesterol is laid down and results
in blockage of arteries and the ensuing stress on the
heart. Oxidative stress in joints leads to arthritis, in the
brain to impairment of cognition and dementia.
Vitamin C is also essential for Immune health. The
highest concentration of C is found in the white blood
cells which deal with inflammation and infection.
Maintaining adequate levels of Vitamin C helps to
stave off infection. Vitamin C shortens wound healing
time. Low levels of Vitamin C are associated with poor
health outcomes such as developing pneumonia and
As it is a water-soluble vitamin, the body cannot
store it and as human bodies cannot manufacture it,
we need to ingest it every day. Foods such as fresh fruits
like citrus and berries, and dark, green leafy vegetables
like asparagus and broccoli are excellent sources.
Supplementation is necessary to help us deal with
the stresses of modern living. It is available in various
forms: ascorbic acid, buffered or esterified forms and
liposomal forms that are better absorbed and, for
extreme cases under medical supervision, it is available
Mother Nature helps us by producing winter fruits
that are full of vitamin C, so feast on
the guavas, oranges, and grapefruit so
abundantly available now.
Dr Estelle Moys : M.Tech Hom