Vitamin C. A Jack-of-all-trades
Vitamin C first came to the attention of scientists when it was identified as the chemical in fresh fruit that protected against the development of scurvy, a disease suffered in particular by sailors on long journeys. Since then it has been shown to be important in as many as 20 different processes going on in the body including protection against cancer.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C is just 60 mg but that was originally decided on as just a bit more than was required to prevent the development of scurvy (46mg). With the jobs that Vitamin C does in the body this is clearly too low and there are papers published in respected journals arguing that it should be raised, e.g. in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
With regard to its anti-cancer activity Vitamin C along with vitamin E, ß-carotene and selenium are recognised as the body’s most important anti-oxidants.
The chemical reactions going on in the body produce a lot of very active chemicals that can cause damage to DNA in cells and can potentially initiate cancer. Vitamin C, in its anti-oxidant capacity, quickly mops up those dangerous chemicals before they can initiate that damage.
So, we can see how important it is to have an adequate intake of vitamin C. The highest concentrations of Vitamin C are found in fresh fruit, particularly citrus fruits, and vegetables.