Many health-conscious people ask, where does vitamin C come from? The (water-soluble) vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is probably the best known of all vitamins. It is found mainly in fresh vegetables, is involved in many metabolic processes, and protects the cells from aggressive oxygen compounds (free radicals). Here you can find out all the important information on the topic: What is vitamin C good for? How much vitamin C is needed per day? Can vitamin C really help with colds?
What is vitamin C and where does vitamin C come from?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. The body has to absorb it regularly with food. Vitamin C is mainly found in citrus fruits and fresh vegetables.
In addition, vitamin C is added to many processed products such as sausages and meat products as an additive (E300 to E304, E315, and E316). It makes them more durable and maintains its original color.
What is vitamin C good for? Many metabolic processes in the human body require vitamin C. For example, the vitamin has an effect on the optimal functioning of the immune system.
What are the functions of vitamin C in the body?
The positive effect of vitamin C on the immune system is particularly well known: the body needs the vitamin for a strong immune system.
Ascorbic acid also promotes the absorption and utilization of iron from plant foods. It is needed to produce bile acids and catecholamines such as noradrenaline and adrenaline. In addition, vitamin C intercepts cell-damaging oxygen compounds in the body – so-called “free radicals”, which are produced during normal metabolic processes, but also by UV radiation, nicotine, and drugs. Ascorbic acid can also prevent the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. Nitrosamines can, for example, be formed during digestion and are also contained in some foods (e.g. in cured meat and sausage products).
Furthermore, vitamin C is important for the formation of connective tissue (collagen) and for wound healing.
What is ascorbic acid and what is L-ascorbic acid?
Ascorbic acid is the chemical name of vitamin C. This name dates back to 1932 when the vitamin was first isolated from paprika. The term “ascorbic acid” comes from Latin and means “without scurvy”. Scurvy is the best-known vitamin C deficiency symptom.
There are four different stereoisomeric forms of ascorbic acid. Stereoisomers are compounds with the same chemical molecular formula and the same constitution, but different spatial structure. One of them is L-ascorbic acid. It is the only one with biological activity, which means that it is the only one that has an effect on living tissue.
Vitamin C: skin protector and preservative
Cosmetics manufacturers particularly appreciate the antioxidant properties of vitamin C. As a radical scavenger, it defuses aggressive oxygen compounds (free radicals) – with double benefits: On the one hand, ascorbic acid thus protects cosmetic products from spoilage through contact with oxygen (oxidative spoilage). On the other hand, vitamin C reduces the oxidative stress for the skin. If too many free radicals accumulate in a cell, they can damage or even destroy it – the skin ages faster.
The absorption of vitamin C from cosmetic products into the skin is improved if the ascorbic acid is packed in liposomes. These are tiny, hollow beads whose shell consists of a lipid bilayer (lipid = fat) which is similar to the cell membrane. Inside there is an aqueous phase in which, for example, the water-soluble vitamin C can be transported. Due to its similar structure, the liposome envelope can easily interact with the cell membrane and release its contents to the cell – at least that is what experts suspect.