Main Actions

Vitamin C is an electron donor (reducing agent or antioxidant), and most of its biochemical and molecular functions can be accounted for by this function. It is involved in many biochemical processes in the body such as:

• energy release from fatty acids

• metabolism of cholesterol

• reduction of nitrosamine formation in the stomach

• formation of thyroid hormone

• carnitine biosynthesis

• modulation of iron and copper absorption

• corticosteroid biosynthesis

• protection of folic acid reductase, which converts folic acid to folinic acid

• collagen biosynthesis

• tyrosine biosynthesis and catabolism

• neurotransmitter biosynthesis.

The main actions of vitamin C are summarised below. ANTIOXIDANT

Vitamin C is one of the most important water-soluble antioxidant substances in the body. It scavenges free radical oxygen and nitrogen species such as superoxide, hydroxyl, peroxyl and nitroxide radicals and non-radical reactive species such as singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite and hypochlorite (FAO/WHO 2002, Hendler et al 2001). Besides having a direct antioxidant function, it also indirectly increases free radical scavenging by regenerating vitamin E (Vatassery 1987) and maintaining glutathione in reduced form.

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