The major form of vitamin C, L-ascorbic acid, is a strong reducing agent that participates in hydroxylation reactions such as that necessary for the formation of collagen. Scurvy results from vitamin C deficiency and results in collagen, protein, and lipid metabolism abnormalities. Additionally, the presence of vitamin C in the intestines increases the absorption rate of iron. Those with a vitamin C deficiency will also be iron depleted.
Vitamin C, which is found primarily in fruits and vegetables, 2 is absorbed through the jejunum and ileum. The absorption rates decrease with increasing intraluminal quantities of vitamin C. For example, 90 percent of a 100-mg dose might be absorbed, whereas only 20 percent of a 10-g dose might be absorbed. The daily recommended dose for adults is 60 mg. Vitamin C levels, although high in fruits and vegetables, are reduced by heat, drying, and storage.
Large doses of vitamin C can produce attacks of gout and nephrolithiasis in individuals with these conditions. Others may develop diarrhea and abdominal cramps, which subside with discontinuation. Megadoses of vitamin C may result in false negative guaiac testing of feces, and may give falsely elevated glucose levels on dipstick testing.
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