A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C has antioxidant effects, improves immune function, and aids in the absorption of iron from the digestive tract into the body. It is most commonly used for preventing or treating the common cold, but it may also be used for other conditions. Most people do not experience side effects with vitamin C, but high-dose supplementation may lead to insomnia, nausea, and heartburn.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin used to treat and prevent a wide variety of conditions. Often, people use it to prevent or treat the common cold. However, there are other claimed uses of vitamin C as well, such as for reducing the risk of heart disease. Some of these uses are more valid than others.
(Click Benefits of Vitamin C for more information on what it is used for.)
How Does It Work?
The vitamin has several different effects in the human body, such as:
- Antioxidant -- Many of the effects of vitamin C can be attributed to its antioxidant effects. As an antioxidant, it helps prevent the formation of free radicals, damaging molecules or atoms that can start a chain reaction of cellular damage. Free radicals play a role in various age-related conditions, such as cancer and heart disease.
- Immune function -- There are numerous different proposed mechanisms by which vitamin C may improve immune function. At this time, it is not entirely clear how the vitamin stimulates the immune system.
- Iron absorption -- Vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron from the digestive tract into the body.
- Various metabolic pathways and synthesis processes -- It is important for many different crucial processes in the body, including forming cartilage and proteins and building or breaking down numerous other compounds or tissues in the body.