Vitamin C antioxidant function

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Vitamin C is one the potent antioxidant nutrient. Its water soluble property enhances its uses.

Antioxidant and its activity

Ascorbic acid as an antioxidant neutralizes and stops oxidative reactions caused by free radicals in our body.
Vitamin C has a reactive reducing ion available and combines readily with the extra oxygen ion in the free radical, to form water and harmless products.

Free radical activity

During the biological process of metabolism and energy production a number of free radicals (reactive oxygen species) are generated in the body which are useful, in small quantities, for further biological activities.
If these reactive oxygen species are in excess they can cause oxidative damages to body cells and kill them.
Due to our present food habits, sun exposure, pollution and the lifestyle, free radicals are being produced in our body in excess.
This is resulting in oxidative stress which is the precursor to all ailments of the body.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) antioxidant functions

  • Ascorbic acid in aqueous solution, with the reactive hydrogen ion available, acts as reducing agent and neutralises the free radicals before they reach the cells and damage them.
  • When the free reactive oxygen species (such as superoxide and hydroxyl radicals) formed in the body seek out an electron to gain stability vitamin C in the water soluble form readily reacts with them forming harmless by-products.
  • Further inside the cells ascorbic acid as an reducing agent prevents the damage to lipids, cell membrane and the cell contents.
  • Glutathione peroxidase, with the association of vitamin C helps in the re-synthesis of vitamin E which is fat soluble.
  • Working along with vitamin E (fat soluble) and glutathione peroxidase enzyme, ascorbic acid stops damage to lipids and also alteration and mutation of genetic materials like chromosomes.
  • Vitamin C inhibits the production of nitrosamines from the nitrites prevalent in our present day foods. Nitrosamines are carcinogenic in nature.
  • Ascorbic acid protects cell DNA from the oxidative damages caused by carcinogens, mutagens and free radicals.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) has been found to reduce the oxidative damages of lungs from free radicals.
  • Vitamin C reduces chromosomal abnormalities caused by coal tar, halogenated ethers, methyl methacrylate and styrene.
  • LDL cholesterol is protected from being oxidized by free radicals by vitamin c antioxidant.
  • Smokers are prone to LDL cholesterol oxidation and in trials it has been found that ascorbic acid as an antioxidant prevents the oxidative damages.
  • Sodium, calcium and potassium salts of ascorbic acid are useful as food additives to protect it from oxidative damages.
  • In sportsmen after a burst of activity or exercise the free radicals go up alarmingly causing fatigue due to muscle damage. Sufficient vitamin C (ascorbic acid) antioxidant present in the body lowers the muscle damage and fatigue.
Related topics:
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C - Foods - Sources
Deficiency and Therapy

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Antioxidant function of vitamin C

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