Vitamin C

RESEARCHER'S NOTE: The following briefing is taken directly from the website of the National Library of Medicine, a US federal government body.

NLM on Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid, also known as vitamin C, is necessary for wound healing. It is needed for many functions in the body, including helping the body use carbohydrates, fats, and protein. Vitamin C also strengthens blood vessel walls. Lack of vitamin C can lead to a condition called scurvy, which causes muscle weakness, swollen and bleeding gums, loss of teeth, and bleeding under the skin, as well as tiredness and depression. Wounds also do not heal easily. Your health care professional may treat scurvy by prescribing vitamin C for you.

Some conditions may increase your need for vitamin C. These include:

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
Diarrhea (prolonged)
Fever (prolonged)
Infection (prolonged)
Intestinal diseases
Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
Stomach ulcer
Stress (continuing)
Surgical removal of stomach

Also, the following groups of people may have a deficiency of vitamin C:

Infants receiving unfortified formulas
Patients using an artificial kidney (on hemodialysis)
Patients who undergo surgery
Individuals who are exposed to long periods of cold temperatures
Increased need for vitamin C should be determined by your health care professional.

Vitamin C may be used for other conditions as determined by your health care professional. Although vitamin C is being used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer, there is not enough information to show that these uses are effective.