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Vitamin C
Chemical Structure
Food Sources
Vitamin C in the Body

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Vitamin C Crystals
Vitamin C Crystals
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Vitamin C

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid is one of the water soluble vitamins.

Did You Know? Most animals can synthesize their own ascorbic acid within their liver, with the exception of fish, primates (including humans) and Guinea pigs!

Did You Know? Vitamin C is commonly added to foods as an antioxidant to protect colour and aroma.

Did You Know? Vitamin C in an alkaline solution can be used as a photographic developing agent.

Did You Know? As a reducing agent, ascorbic acid is used industrially in metallurgy.


Chemical Structure

The Chemical Structure of Ascorbic acid

Fig.1 The Chemical Structure of Ascorbic Acid
3D Structure of Ascorbic acid


Principal Sources in Food

Good sources of ascorbic acid in nature include:
  • Citrus Fruits
  • Mangetout
  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cauliflour
  • Sweet peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Guava
  • Mango
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Parsley
  • Watercress

Vitamin C in the Body

Vitamin C is vital for the production of Collagen. (Click on the "Rasmol" icon in this link to view the 3D structure of collagen) Collagen is the intercellular substance that gives bones, teeth, cartilage, blood vessels and muscles their structure. Ascorbic acid is needed for synthesis of bile acids; it also maintains skin elasticity, aids in iron absorption, and improves resistance to infection. Symptoms of beginning vitamin C deficiency include:
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Minor capillary bleeding
A long period of vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, the weakening of body structures containing collagen, characterised by:
  • Widespread capillary bleeding
  • Bleeding gums and loosening teeth
  • Bone malformations in infants



In food, ascorbic acid can be partially or completely destroyed by overcooking or long periods of storage as it is sensitive to heat, light and oxygen.



Vitamin C can be extracted from plant sources, such as rose hips or blackcurrants, but is more commonly synthesized from glucose.


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