Vitamin C – What is it and Why do you need it?

Written by Mrs Alice WilksCo-founder & Virtual Assistant at My Girl Friday


Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin; our bodies don’t store it, so it’s important to get enough from our diets every day. As an organic compound, this vital vitamin can be found in in foods such as kiwi, bell peppers, sprouts, and strawberries; but is also available as a health supplement.

Today, Vitamin C is considered vital for our general health and well-being – but where did it all start?


In the 13th century, many sailors were dying at sea from scurvy. The Portuguese were known to plant an array of fruit and vegetables in the town of Saint Helena; a stopping point for home bound voyages. Here, the ship’s crew would savour fresh produce for its curative effects.

A breakthrough in the 16th century meant scurvy was being treated effectively, by providing sailors with citrus fruit alongside their usual rations.

Fast forward to 1912, when Vitamin C was discovered and later isolated. It eventually made its way on to the World Health Organisations List of Essential Medicines; playing a huge role in many bodily functions including tissue repair, production of certain neurotransmitters, and general immune functioning.

Why is it important

Immune System Health

Most notably, this incredible vitamin can boost your immunity in many ways. For example, by helping white blood cells function more effectively by protecting them against damage, strengthening your skin’s defence system, and helping wounds heal faster through encouraging white blood cell production.


Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen; the main component of connective tissues such as tendons, ligaments, skin, cartilage and bones. Maintaining an adequate level of vitamin C may assist in the healing of wounds and injuries.

Cardiovascular health

Linking back to the production of collagen, Vitamin C may widen the blood vessels, which could help protect against heart disease and hypertension, or high blood pressure.

Cholesterol levels

These were found to be lower in individuals with adequate levels of vitamin C.


Those with the condition are less likely to experience deterioration of the kidneys, eyes, and nerves provided they have a sufficient level of vitamin C.  

Cancer treatment

As an antioxidant Vitamin C protects the body against cell damage. It may help in the treatment of cancers according to published research in the field. As well as this, high doses of the essential vitamin have shown to reduce the speed of growth of certain types of cancerous tissue.

A Few interesting facts

  • Did you know vitamin C, instant coffee, and washing powder can be used to develop black and white film?

  • The only mammals unable to produce their own vitamin C are humans, primates, and guinea pigs.

  • Smoking causes the body to excrete more vitamin C than usual

  • Vitamin C is essential in the synthesis of carnitine, a substance which helps convert fat to energy