Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is stored in many tissues throughout the body, but the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration. Vitamin C is known to assist against scurvy.
Humans are one of the few species that cannot manufacture vitamin C. We must depend on our diet, or nutritional supplements, as a source of this vitamin. Vitamin C exists in nature in both its reduced form, l-ascorbicc acid, and in its oxidized form, l-dehydroascorbic acid. L-ascorbic acid is the most active form. However, in the body they convert back and forth to each other in a reversible equilibrium. Buffered vitamin C refers to the sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium ascorbate salts. These forms of vitamin C are buffered from acidic to a pH of 6.5-6.8. This buffering may be less likely to cause gastric irritation when taken in higher doses. When not being taken as a nutritional supplement, the best dietary sources of vitamin C are found in fresh fruits like citrus fruits, strawberries, cantaloupe and currants, and fresh vegetables like Brussels sprouts, collard greens, lettuce, cabbage, peas, and asparagus.
Scurvy is rare in the United States, but sub-clinical deficiencies are common. Deficiency symptoms include capillary fragility, hemorrhage, muscular weakness, easy bruising, gums that bleed easily, poor wound healing, anemia, poor appetite and growth, and tender, swollen joints. Stressful situations (both physical and emotional) tend to deplete the body’s stores of vitamin C quickly. Individuals most likely to experience deficiencies include elderly people on poor diets, alcoholics, people who are severely ill or under constant stress, and infants who are only fed cow’s milk.