POWER OF VITAMIN C
Time for another blog! So, in light of recent laboratory tests which showed that Shilajit contains vitamin C (we’re not joking, check it out here), we thought learning about it would be in order. There is a very high chance that each one of you heard about it at some part of your life. After all, every time we catch a cold or feel sick, somebody probably recommends vitamin C to us… as it turns out, for a good reason. Humans, unlike most animals, are unable to synthesize vitamin C endogenously, so it is an essential dietary component. This means that if your diet lacks vitamin C, your body can’t make it on its own. It makes sense to put lemon in your tea when you’re sick, right? Let’s explore this some more.
WHAT IS VITAMIN C?
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin. There are nine water-soluble vitamins: the B vitamins — folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 — and vitamin C. Deficiency of any of these water-soluble vitamins results in a clinical syndrome that may result in severe morbidity and mortality. Unlike fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins aren’t long-term. They don’t get stored in your body. They enter your bloodstream, and anything your body doesn’t need is eliminated through your urine. Since water-soluble vitamins don’t last long in your body, they need to be replenished frequently. This means you need to eat vitamin C-rich foods (fruit especially) very regularly, not just when you feel sick. Vitamin C was “discovered” in 1932, but even before that, experts recognized that something in citrus fruit prevented certain diseases.
HOW IT WORKS
You probably heard about antioxidants. Well, in essence, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Oxidation means “breaking down”. And when that happens in our bodies, free radicals are created. These free radicals can cause significant chain chemical reactions in your body because they react so quickly with other molecules. These reactions are called oxidation. When there are more free radicals present than can be kept in balance by antioxidants, the free radicals can start doing damage to fatty tissue, DNA, and proteins in your body. Proteins, lipids, and DNA make up a large part of your body, so that damage can lead to many diseases over time.
Everyone produces some free radicals naturally in their bodies through processes like exercise or inflammation. This is normal and part of the body’s intricate system of keeping itself healthy. It’s impossible to avoid free radical exposure and oxidative stress altogether. However, there are things you can do to minimize the effects of oxidative stress on your body. The main thing you can do is increase your antioxidant levels and decrease your formation of free radicals. This is why vitamin C is getting so much attention. Research has found its exceptional ability to neutralize free radical molecules and thus can be very good for our health.
WHAT ROLES DOES IT PLAY?
Its most notorious and famous role as an immune system booster is known to practically everybody, so it probably makes sense that it is also found in Shilajit. Secondly, it helps to protect cells and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body. Ongoing research is examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a causal role. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C can help with prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. It is needed to make collagen, a fibrous protein in connective tissue that is weaved throughout various systems in the body: nervous, immune, bone, cartilage, blood, and others. The vitamin helps make several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves.
As we can see, this is a very versatile and essential substance. However, a health benefit of taking larger amounts has not been found in people who are generally healthy and well-nourished. Cell studies have shown that vitamin C can switch roles at very high concentrations and act as a tissue-damaging pro-oxidant instead of an antioxidant. Maybe the lesson in all of this is that all things must be taken and used in moderation…even good ones.
Vitamin C can be destroyed by heat and light. High-heat cooking temperatures or prolonged cook times can break down the vitamin. Because it is water-soluble, the vitamin can also seep into cooking liquid and be lost if the liquids are not eaten. Quick heating methods or using as little water as possible when cooking, such as stir-frying or blanching, can preserve the vitamin. Foods at peak ripeness eaten raw contain the most vitamin C. While Shilajit contains some vitamin C, it is important to keep healthy levels with a good and diverse diet…the true key to a healthy living.
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