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Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid as it is sometimes known, is essential for wound healing, an effectice immune system, and the absorption of iron. This important vitamin is involved in collagen formation and helps to maintain the bones and tissues of the body. There are many claims of Vitamin C's ability to directly prevent colds, infections and more serious diseases. However, there is no proven medical research to confirm this.

Food sources
The most widely known source of Vitamin C is the orange but there are dozens of equally vitamin C rich foods. Blackberries, kiwi fruit and broccoli are very high in Vitamin C, sometimes even more so than oranges. Other good Vitamin C foods include cabbage, tomatoes, strawberries and pineapple.

Daily requirement
The European Commission daily recommendation for Vitamin C is 60mg for both men and women. In the United States, the Vitamin C RDA higher is also 60mg. In the UK, however, the RDA for Vitamin C is somewhat lower at 40mg for both men and women. However, many nutritionalists and health experts believe this is too low for fully grown adults.

Deficiency
A vitamin C deficiency is common in people who don't eat significant amounts of fruits and vegetables. Smokers and drinkers are also likely to be low in Vitamin C as cigarettes reduce your levels of the vitamin, and alcohol inhibits its adsorption. Pregnant and lactating women can become deficient because of the increased utilization of the vitamin.

Vitamin C deficiency over a prolonged period will lead to scurvy which manifests itself in lethargy, muscle and joint pain, dental decay and problems with wound healing. If left untreated, jaundice, fever, haemorrhages and convulsions may occur. In some cases it can prove fatal.

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