Ascorbic acid is white crystalline substance readily soluble in water. It is easily destroyed by oxidation, heat and alkalies. It is readily absorbed from the intestine. Hence it is named as fresh food vitamin.

    1. Due to its great affinity for oxidation it takes part in oxidation and reduction reactions in the tissues.
    2. Ascorbic acid is essential for the formation of collagen present between cells. It is otherwise known as the cementing material or intercellular cement of the body
    3. If collagen is defective, tissues in the capillaries teeth and bone matrix are not formed properly
    4. Ascorbic acid is also necessary for the formation of osteoblasts
    5. Vitamin C is essential for cholesterol metabolism
    6. It is also necessary for the conversion of phenylalanine to tyrosine and for the oxidation of tyrosine
    7. It takes part in the conversion of tryptophan to 5-hyrdroxy- tryptophan
    8. Ascorbic acid reduces the ferric iron to ferrous iron and iron is absorbed only in this form
    9. It is also essential for rapid healing of wounds as it helps in the formation of connective tissues.
    10. Vitamin C is also essential for the utilization of folacin and for the absorption of iron.

    Prolonged deficiency of vitamin C produces scurvy. In mild deficiency fatigue, weakness, irritability and frequent infections occur. Pain in bones is common.
    Scurvy among infants is known as infantile scurvy. The infant cries on moving its legs and arms. Early symptoms include listlessness, fatigue, fleeting pains in the joints and muscles, bleeding gums, internal haemorrhages and shortness of breath. In severe deficiency of vitamin C scurvy occurs. Swollen gums, loose teeth, soft or malformed weak bones, anaemia, degeneration of muscle fibres including heart muscles are some of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency. Separation of ribs through beading is also observed. This can be distinguished from rickets from its shape. The skin becomes rough and dry. Pyrexia, rapid pulse and susceptibility to infection are common in scurvy.
    In adults, weakness, spongy bleeding gums, loose teeth, swollen joints and haemorrhages in various tissues are the symptoms.
    Prophylaxis for infantile scurvy includes 50mg of vitamin C with orange juice three or four times a day. In the case of adults 100 mg of ascorbic acid twice daily is recommended. Citrus fruits, sprouted pulses and soaked cereals must be liberally used for vitamin C.

    loose teeth
    Rough and dry skin


Richest sources
: Amla or Indian gooseberry, guava, west Indian cherry

Good sources
: Lime, orange, pineapple, ripe mango, papaya, cashew fruit and

tomato, leafy vegetables


    RDA of Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) for Indians Group

    RDA (mg/d)

    Adult Man 40
    Woman 40
    Pregnant Woman 60
    Lactating woman 80
    Children 0 – 6 months 25
    7 – 12 months
    1 – 3 years 40
    4 – 6 years
    7 – 9 years
    Adolescents Boys 10-12 years 40
    Girls 10-12 years
    Boys 13-15 years 40
    Girls 13-15 years
    Boys 16-17 years 40
    Girls 16-17 years

Last modified: Saturday, 2 June 2012, 6:50 AM