Human body relies on several food components in order to remain healthy. Vitamins play a significant role in keeping the body at its proper state. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), in particular, has been identified as being one of the most frequently used and highly valued vitamins globally (Pressman & Buff, 2000). This vitamin group helps in fighting many diseases. The research paper provides the different recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for the children, adolescents, and the elderly. It also discusses the complications associated with inadequate RDA for vitamin C as well as the effects of excessive intake of the vitamin on the body. Furthermore, the paper explains the role of vitamin C in maintaining good health.
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Medical researchers have found that the amounts of vitamin C required by different age groups are never the same. The minimum recommended dosage per day, also known as the RDA, for the children, adolescents and the elderly has been established. For children aged between 4 and 10, they require about 40-45 mg of ascorbic acid. Adolescents aged 15-24 require between 45 and 60 mg of ascorbic acid. This dosage requirement, according to research, does not vary significantly between adult males and females who must also take in a minimum of up to 60 mg of ascorbic acid daily (Pressman & Buff, 2000). For pregnant and lactating women, it is recommended that they take between 75 and 95 mg of ascorbic acid daily. This ensures the safety of the unborn child as well as the developing baby. The elderly, however, do not need large amounts of vitamin C.
The stated RDA only refers to the minimum possible amounts of vitamin C that can help in fighting scurvy, a disease caused by inadequate levels of vitamin C. In fact, research findings estimate that a healthy person should have an intake of about 200 to 500 mg of ascorbic acid each day (Cass & English, 2008). As already mentioned, low levels of vitamin C in the body mainly result in a deficiency disease called scurvy and can be clinically treated by increasing the levels of vitamin C in the body. Besides, lack of vitamin C can also cause hemorrhages below the skin surface resulting in soft skin that is easy to bruise. Moreover, inadequate vitamin C causes poor healing of wounds, the gums become soft and spongy which in turn loosen the teeth (Pressman & Buff, 2000). Lower levels of vitamin C in the body also cause edema which is characterized by the retention of water. General body weakness, indigestion, and bronchial infections may also be indicators of inadequate supply of vitamin C in the body. Excessive intake of vitamin C has been clinically established to be very harmful. Ascorbic acid is highly soluble in water and any excesses are lost through urine. Toxic levels cause gastrointestinal problems which worsen with continued intake. The levels at which the ascorbic acid become toxic vary significantly from person to person as well as age. Relatively lower levels of about 1000 mg can be toxic to some individuals while others can manage up to highs of about 25,000 mg daily.
Vitamin C, therefore, plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy body. Researchers have found that the intake of vitamin C is higher when an individual is undergoing some kind of trauma, infections, demanding exercises, or during higher temperatures in the environment (Cass & English, 2008). Vitamin C also enhances the body’s antioxidant characteristics which help in protecting the body against harmful body wastes. Due to its reducing properties, vitamin C helps in the prevention of some cancers, cataracts, as well as cardiovascular infections/diseases.
Cass, H. & English, J. (2008). The user’s guide to vitamin C: understanding how vitamin C can improve health (4th ed.). Prentice Hall
Pressman, H. A. & Buff, S. (2000). The complete idiot’s guide to essential vitamins and minerals (3rd ed.). McGraw Hill Plc.