Did you know that Vitamin C is the first vitamin to be discovered? This water-soluble nutrient paved the way to nutritional supplementation, creating a multi-billion industry in preventive healthcare.
It all started with a scurvy epidemic in Europe in the 1550s. Scurvy, characterised by spots on the skin, spongy gums, bleeding in the mucous membranes, paleness, fatigue and depression, was already a common condition which had plagued the world for centuries.
The disease was first noted by Hippocrates in 400BC, yet no one knew that it was caused by a lack of fruits and vegetables.
A breakthrough came in the early 1770s when renowned explorer Jacques Cartier noticed that his sailors who ate oranges, lime and berries did not get scurvy compared to those who did. Even if they get infected, they recovered and did not succumb to it like others.
This prompted British doctor, James Lind, to conduct further research into citrus fruits to determine its link to scurvy. His groundbreaking discovery made citrus fruits a mandatory part of the sailors’ diet and continued to draw further research on this amazing nutrient.
The Vitamin C that we know today was isolated in 1928 by Hungarian biochemist Dr. Syent-Gyorgijc who won a Nobel Prize for his discovery. Today, we know that this simple yet powerful compound carries several health benefits such as:
- Formation of collagen, a protein that holds the body cells together and helps in wound healing as well as good skin
- Enhance the absorption of iron, an important mineral for healthy gums, teeth, bones and the proper functioning of the adrenal and thyroid glands
- Potent antioxidant that promotes healing and protects against physical and mental stress as well as environmental pollution
- Prevents bacterial and viral infections by strengthening the immune system and protecting against free radicals
- Reduces the severity of allergies and colds
- Promotes anti-ageing that brings about chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and asthma
The problem with Vitamin C is that it is easily destroyed. Although easily available through fruits and vegetables such as dark green leafy vegetables, beans, nuts, grain products, fruits with bright colours for example citrus fruits, mangoes, tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, pink grapefruit, guava, and blue berry, it is easily lost through oxidization and cooking.
Poor lifestyle habits such as smoking and exposure to sun and carbon monoxide also destroys Vitamin C. As the body does not produce or store Vitamin C, it is necessary to ensure we get sufficient amounts though the diet or supplementation.
Vitamin C is available in various forms such as tablets, chewable tablets, effervescent and liquid form encapsulated in soft gelatin capsules (‘softgel’). The liquid form is believed to be the most effective due to several factors:
1) FASTER ABSORBILITY: In liquid form, Vitamin C can be immediately absorbed without having to go through the breakdown process required by the other forms.
2) EASY CONSUMPTION: Children and the elderly who have trouble swallowing tablets or softgels will benefit most from the liquid form because of the convenience of liquid consumption.
3) CONCENTRATED FORM: Liquid Vitamin C is more concentrated because it does not have the fillers and binders that are needed to hold them together in a tablet form.
4) NO STOMACH DISCOMFORT: Rapid absorption prevents stomach acidity and protects the teeth from acidic erosion.