Doctors and nutrition experts put emphasis on consuming foods rich in Vitamin C, this is because Vitamin C is part of a group of vitamins that are required in the proper working of the body.
According to Dieudonne Bukaba, a Kigali based nutritionist, Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues.
He says, sources of Vitamin C include; cantaloupe, oranges, broccoli, tomatoes, green pepper, green peas, sweet potatoes, carrots, water melon, avocado, apples, lemons and limes, grape fruits, cabbages, fresh vegetables, and strawberries, among others.
Bukaba notes that Vitamin C is involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Private Kamanzi, a dietician at Amazon Wellness Centre, Remera Gasabo District, explains that Vitamin C is famous for its immune-boosting properties albeit it has so many other functions that are very important. For example, improving skin condition and promoting healthy joints are just some of these additional functions.
Kamanzi notes that Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke. Free radicals can build up and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Bukaba says Vitamin C is not stored in the body (excess amounts are excreted), so overdose is not a concern. But it is still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid stomach upset and diarrhoea.
Kamanzi states that Vitamin C is also needed for gum health and teeth repair, noting that bleeding gums is quite a common symptom during menopause. So, if this is happening, it could be that one’s body lacks Vitamin C.
Bukaba advises water-soluble vitamins to be continuously supplied in the diet to maintain healthy levels. He urges one to eat Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables raw, or cook them with minimal water so the water-soluble vitamin in the cooking water is not lost.
“Vitamin C is probably best known as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are forms of molecules that help keep chemical reactions in our body in check. In particular, antioxidants help prevent excessive activity on the part of free radical molecules,” Kamanzi stresses.
He further notes that Vitamin C helps to prevent heart disease and controls histamine levels.
Bukaba explains that Vitamin C is necessary to make certain neurotransmitters, these are the signals that carry thoughts, feelings, and commands around our brains and throughout our nervous system.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN C DEFICIENCY
Kamanzi notes that people with Vitamin C deficiency suffer from reduced energy in the body at the initial stages, commonly known as fatigue. Such people tend to get tired very easily and are not able to carry out activities that require a lot of effort.
He adds, Vitamin C is very important for the body, its deficiency can also cause weight loss that might result in some serious problems for the health of an individual.
“Since Vitamin C helps in the growth and development of the bones, the teeth and the gums, deficiency may result in damage of the gums leading to various kinds of periodontal problems. Such an infection is mainly known as scurvy which is a very worrying condition,” he says.
Bukaba says that if one is suffering from Vitamin C deficiency, one might tend to bruise very easily and this shows that the chemistry of the body requires some kind of improvement.
He adds that lack of Vitamin C also leads to mood changes; such people get irritated very easily, are impatient and at the same time, short tempered.