Photos above and on the left: Albert von Szent-Györgyi

Vitamin C

Important information about vitamin C 1,2

Vitamin C was first discovered in 1928 by a Nobel Prize winner Albert von Szent-Györgyi.

Vitamin C is the most well-known and popular vitamin needed for the proper course of many life processes. The largest amounts are found in organs with high metabolic acitvity, including in the adrenal glands, brain, pancreas, stomach and lungs.

The minimum daily requirement for vitamin C is the largest of all the vitamins. It is about 1 mg/kg of body weight in an adult, and approximately 2 mg/kg of body weight in infants and children. The daily requirement for vitamin C increases in pregnant and breastfeeding women (to about 1.5 mg/kg of body weight) and in various medical conditions (arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus, in patients on renal dialysis), as well as in smokers and in people who are under stress. It is also increased after strenuous, long-lasting physical activity, and in the case of vomiting, lack of appetite and abnormal bowel function.

Due to lack of enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase, the human body is unable to produce vitamin C on its own and must get it from food and/or supplementation.


Vitamin C can be used:

  • in order to contribute to maintain the normal function of the immune system,
  • in order to contribute to normal collagen formation-for the normal function of blood vessels, cartilage and bones,
  • to protect the cells from oxidative stress- cause by, e.g.:



-intense, regular physical effort,

-improper diet,

-environmental pollution (e.g. pesticides, heavy metals),

-excessive exposure to sunlight,

-age. 21-23

  • in dentistry- vitamin C participates inthe  formation of collagen present in dentine, gums and bones, supporting their proper functioning, hence it can play a significant  role in e.g. implantology, orthognathic surgery, 18, 24, 25
  • as the vitamin of beauty- vitamin C helps in the normal formation of collagen, which is the main building component of the dermis,16
  • to increase iron absorption.

It is a very good antioxidant that effectively “sweeps away” free radicals, reducing the amount of damage at the DNA level, but also damage to proteins and lipids. 1,2

  • It takes part in the regeneration of vitamin E, thus strengthening the antioxidant effect.
  • Thanks to antioxidant properties, it protect cells of the immune system (including neutrophil cells, lymphocytes, macrophages) against oxidative stress, significantly increased during infection due to the production of endogenous radicals. 26
  • The decreased level of vitamin C is observed in patients:

- with an improper diet, poor in fruits and vegetables,

- hospitalized, 26,27

- in a critical condition. 28


It may demonstrate protective properties against many toxic substances, e.g. carcinogenic effects of N-nitroso compounds.2,12

It also stimulates the synthesis of norepinephrine and L-carnitine which help to maintain low level of fat tissue. Therefore, vitamin C may be helpful in regulating body weight.2,20

It plays a significant role in the proper functioning of the immune system, stimulates the proliferation of T-cells in response to infections, affects the function of neutrophils. It has antiviral and antibacterial effects, reduces the severity and duration of cold symptoms. 15,19

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, vitamin C plays a crucial role in prevention of atherosclerosis, by inhibiting the oxidation of LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein) and by reducing leukocyte adhesion to the vascular endothelium. 5, 7

It is worth to know that unused vitamin C is eliminated from the body. Therefore, it is important to take vitamin C regularly in order to maintain its adequate levels.

What are the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency? 2, 17

  • reduced immunity,
  • increased susceptibility to infections,
  • decreased physical performance,
  • impaired wound healing,
  • impaired collagen formation,
  • gingival bleeding,
  • impairment of all other processes which require and involve vitamin C,
  • scurvy.

In addition, long-term vitamin C deficiency may intensify the formation of canceorus and atherosclerotic changes, as well as increase blood pressure.

Elderly people, alcoholics, smokers and people on certain medication (e.g. aspirin, sulfonamides, barbiturates) are at risk of vitamin C deficiency.

Increased demand for vitamin C is observed 17

  • in pregnant and breastfeeding women,
  • under stress,
  • in smokers, people who abuse alcohol,
  • when using contraceptive pills, tetracyclines, barbiturates, corticosteroids,
  • in city dwellers (due to omnipresent pollutants and toxins),
  • during febrile states, infectious diseases, peptic ulcer disease,
  • with regular intake of acetylsalicylic acid or other salicylates,
  • in the elderly, surgical patients, people with tissue injuries,
  • in people leading very intensive lifestyle.


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