It was back In 1930s that Albert Szent-Györgyi, a Hungarian biochemist, discovered the chemical called ascorbic acid (vitamin C) that enables the body to efficiently metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. This discovery forms the foundation of modern nutrition.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It prevents inflammation and subsequent oxidative damage, which is often a causation of many acute and chronic disorders.
With the pivotal role vitamin C plays in many metabolic pathways, it is no wonder that it affects organism in a holistic way: it strengthens immune system, reduces tiredness and increases iron absorption. It also, among other things, plays a role in cancer and cardiovascular diseases prevention and has benefitial effects on nervous system.
Human bodies do not have a possibility to produce vitamin C on their own, therefore people have to get vitamin C from food (such as fruits and vegetables) or from dietary supplements.
Deficiency in vitamin C results in scurvy, a condition characterized by general weakness, anemia, gum disease and skin hemorrhages.
The Most Relevant Recent Scientific Reviews
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Vitamin C in Stem Cell Reprogramming and Cancer.
Vitamin C is an essential dietary requirement for humans. In addition to its known role as an antioxidant, vitamin C is a cofactor for Fe2+- and α-ketoglutarate-dependent dioxygenases (Fe2+/α-KGDDs) which comprise a large number of diverse enzymes, including collagen prolyl hydroxylases and epigenetic regulators of histone and DNA methylation. Vitamin C can modulate embryonic stem cell (ESC) function, enhance reprogramming of fibroblasts to induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), and hinder the aberrant self-renewal of hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) through its ability to enhance the activity of either Jumonji C (JmjC) domain-containing histone demethylases or ten-eleven translocation (TET) DNA hydroxylases. Given that epigenetic dysregulation is a known driver of malignancy, vitamin C may play a novel role as an epigenetic anticancer agent.
Sole and combined vitamin C supplementation can prevent postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.
We undertook a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the effect of vitamin C supplementation (vitamin C solely or as adjunct to other therapy) on prevention of postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF) in patients after cardiac surgery. PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library were systematically searched to identify randomized controlled trials assessing the effect of vitamin C supplementation in adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery, and the meta-analysis was performed with a random-effects model. Thirteen trials involving 1956 patients were included. Pooling estimate showed a significantly reduced incidence of POAF (relative risk [RR]: 0.68, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.54 to 0.87, P = 0.002) both in vitamin C alone (RR: 0.75, 95% CI: 0.63 to 0.90, P = 0.002) and as an adjunct to other therapy (RR: 0.32, 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.53, P < 0.001). The results remain stable and robust in subgroup and sensitivity analyses, and trial sequential analysis also confirmed that the evidence was sufficient and conclusive. Additionally, vitamin C could significantly decrease intensive care unit length of stay (weighted mean difference: -0.24 days, 95% CI: -0.45 to -0.03, P = 0.023), hospital length of stay (weighted mean difference: -0.95 days, 95% CI: -1.64 to -0.26, P = 0.007), and risk of adverse events (RR: 0.45, 95% CI: 0.21 to 0.96, P = 0.039). Use of vitamin C alone and as adjunct to other therapy can prevent POAF in patients undergoing cardiac surgery and should be recommended for patients receiving cardiac surgery for prevention of POAF.
Influence of Vitamin C on Lymphocytes: An Overview.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid (AA) is implicated in many biological processes and has been proposed as a supplement for various conditions, including cancer. In this review, we discuss the effects of AA on the development and function of lymphocytes. This is important in the light of cancer treatment, as the immune system needs to regenerate following chemotherapy or stem cell transplantation, while cancer patients are often AA-deficient. We focus on lymphocytes, as these white blood cells are the slowest to restore, rendering patients susceptible to often lethal infections. T lymphocytes mediate cellular immunity and have been most extensively studied in the context of AA biology. In vitro studies demonstrate that T cell development requires AA, while AA also enhances T cell proliferation and may influence T cell function. There are limited and opposing data on the effects of AA on B lymphocytes that mediate humoral immunity. However, AA enhances the proliferation of NK cells, a group of cytotoxic innate lymphocytes. The influence of AA on natural killer (NK) cell function is less clear. In summary, an increasing body of evidence indicates that AA positively influences lymphocyte development and function. Since AA is a safe and cheap nutritional supplement, it is worthwhile to further explore its potential benefits for immune reconstitution of cancer patients treated with immunotoxic drugs.
Dietary Vitamin C in Human Health.
Vitamin C is essential to prevent scurvy in humans and is implicated in the primary prevention of common and complex diseases such as coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. This chapter reviews the latest knowledge about dietary vitamin C in human health with an emphasis on studies of the molecular mechanisms of vitamin C maintenance as well as gene-nutrient interactions modifying these relationships. Epidemiological evidence indicates 5% prevalence for vitamin C deficiency and 13% prevalence for suboptimal status even in industrialized countries. The daily intake (dose) and the corresponding systemic concentrations (response) are related in a saturable relationship, and low systemic vitamin C concentrations in observational studies are associated with negative health outcomes. However, there is no evidence that vitamin C supplementation impacts the risks for all-cause mortality, impaired cognitive performance, reduced quality of life, the development of eye diseases, infections, cardiovascular disease, and cancers. This might be related to the fact that prevention would not be realized by supplementation in populations already adequately supplied through dietary sources. Recent genetic association studies indicate that the dietary intake might not be the sole determinant of systemic concentrations, since variations in genes participating in redox homeostasis and vitamin C transport had been associated with lowered plasma concentrations. However, impact sizes are generally low and these phenomena might only affect individual of suboptimal dietary supply.
Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications.
OBJECTIVE: This review article details the main mechanisms of action and clinical applications of topical vitamin C on the skin, including its antioxidative, photoprotective, antiaging, and antipigmentary effects. DESIGN: A PubMed search for the relevant articles on vitamin C and the skin was conducted using the following key words: “vitamin C,” “ascorbic acid,” “ascorbyl-6-palmitate,”and “magnesium ascorbyl phosphate.” RESULTS: As one of the most powerful antioxidants in the skin, vitamin C has been shown to protect against photoaging, ultraviolet-induced immunosuppression, and photocarcinogenesis. It also has an antiaging effect by increasing collagen synthesis, stabilizing collagen fibers, and decreasing collagen degradation. It decreases melanin formation, thereby reducing pigmentation. Vitamin C is the primary replenisher of vitamin E and works synergistically with vitamin E in the protection against oxidative damage. CONCLUSION: Topical vitamin C has a wide range of clinical applications, from antiaging and antipigmentary to photoprotective. Currently, clinical studies on the efficacy of topical formulations of vitamin C remain limited, and the challenge lies in finding the most stable and permeable formulation in achieving the optimal results.
Vitamin C and Immune Function.
Vitamin C is an essential micronutrient for humans, with pleiotropic functions related to its ability to donate electrons. It is a potent antioxidant and a cofactor for a family of biosynthetic and gene regulatory enzymes. Vitamin C contributes to immune defense by supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune system. Vitamin C supports epithelial barrier function against pathogens and promotes the oxidant scavenging activity of the skin, thereby potentially protecting against environmental oxidative stress. Vitamin Caccumulates in phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils, and can enhance chemotaxis, phagocytosis, generation of reactive oxygen species, and ultimately microbial killing. It is also needed for apoptosis and clearance of the spent neutrophils from sites of infection by macrophages, thereby decreasing necrosis/NETosis and potential tissue damage. The role of vitamin C in lymphocytes is less clear, but it has been shown to enhance differentiation and proliferation of B- and T-cells, likely due to its gene regulating effects. Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. In turn, infections significantly impact on vitamin C levels due to enhanced inflammation and metabolic requirements. Furthermore, supplementation with vitamin C appears to be able to both prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. Prophylactic prevention of infection requires dietary vitamin C intakes that provide at least adequate, if not saturating plasma levels (i.e., 100-200 mg/day), which optimize cell and tissue levels. In contrast, treatment of established infections requires significantly higher (gram) doses of the vitamin to compensate for the increased inflammatory response and metabolic demand.