Vitamin C is involved in the formation of collagen, tissue repair, and wound healing. It also is involved in the synthesis of several hormones and reactions. Ascorbic acid solublizes copper and iron, putting them in a form that can be more easily absorbed in the body. It may also play a role in membrane permeability, leukocyte function, and prevention of histamine accumulation in the body.
Absorption of vitamin C occurs in the small intestine. Ascorbic acid is water-soluble and is easily excreted in urine. It is stored in large quantities in the retina, adrenal and pituitary glands, kidney, pancreas, spleen and liver. It is also present in tissues such as the testes, ovaries, lungs, platelets, leukocytes, erythrocytes and plasma.
Food sources richest in vitamin C include black currants, citrus fruits, other fruit and raw vegetables. Prolonged heating or aging can significantly reduce the amount of active vitamin C available from foods.
Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy, characterized by bleeding gums, loose teeth, swollen tender joints, hemorrhage, muscular aches and pains and irritability.