The "ABCs" of vitamin C

How often have you heard that vitamin C is good for immune defence? Its action on the immune system, our defence system, is well known. But do you know why? We explain the "ABCs": some basic facts that will help you understand how vitamin C works.

A. Ascorbic acid. It is the scientific name for vitamin C. It is a solid that dissolves in water, with an acidic taste. Most animals, including mammals, can synthesize it, but humans can't. Hence, we have to incorporate this essential micronutrient through our diet or through vitamin C supplements.

Antioxidant action. One of the properties of vitamin C is its antioxidant capacity. In our body, as a result of our metabolic processes and also in response to external factors, such as pollution, reactions take place that result in the presence of free radicals which can be harmful to our cells. Vitamin C is a key substance since its antioxidant capacity intervenes by neutralizing these reactive species or free radicals.

B. Beneficial for the overall health of the body, vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system. It acts at all levels of the immune system, from supporting skin barrier function against pathogens to protecting our cells from environmental oxidative stress. Vitamin C supplementation throughout the year helps to reduce the severity and duration of cold & flu symptoms.

In addition, vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, reinforcing the physical barrier of the skin against aggressions and possible micro-organisms. It also plays a role in the metabolism of iron, aiding its absorption by the body.

C. Consume dietary supplements. As we have mentioned, our body is not able to synthesize vitamin C, so it is essential that its contribution is external, through diet and vitamin supplements. Citrus fruits are the best-known source of vitamin C, but also red fruits and some vegetables contain a high value in vitamin C.


  1. Carr A. C. Maggini S. Nutrients. 2017; 9(11):1211.
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