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Vitamin C

Vitamin C serves as a key immune system nutrient and a potent free-radical fighter. This double-duty nutrient has been shown to prevent many illnesses, from everyday ailments such as the common cold to devastating diseases such as cancer.

We depend on ascorbic acid for many aspects of our biochemical functioning; yet human beings are among only a handful of animal species that cannot produce their own supply of vitamin C. Like these other animals, including primates and guinea pigs, we have no choice but to obtain this nutrient in our diet. Considering the many benefits vitamin C may provide, that mandate is deceptively simple.

Much like the immune system itself, which operates at a cellular level, the hardworking vitamin C reaches every cell of the body. The concentration of vitamin C in both blood serum and tissues is quite high. In fact, this nutrient plays a major role in the manufacture and defense of our connective tissue, the elaborate matrix that holds the body together. It serves as a primary ingredient of collagen, a glue-like substance that binds cells together to form tissues.

Vitamin C helps some of our most important body systems. First and foremost, it helps the immune system to fight off foreign invaders and tumor cells. Vitamin C also supports the cardiovascular system by facilitating fat metabolism and protecting tissues from free radical damage, and it assists the nervous system by converting certain amino acids into neurotransmitters.

The skin, teeth and bones also benefit from vitamin C's collagen-forming and invader-resisting properties; this vitamin contributes to the maintenance of healthy bones, the prevention of periodontal disease and the healing of wounds. It accomplishes this task by inhibiting the secretion of the prostaglandins that contribute to such symptoms.

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