Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Vitamin C: Function and Action

Vitamin C: Function and Action
Despite its uncomplicated structure, vitamin C apparently has a very complex functional role in the body. Although the respond of susceptible organisms to a deficiency and replenishment of vitamin C has been carefully observed and the biochemicals reactions in which vitamin C may participate have been identified, no unequivocal mechanisms of action have been established.

The only functional role of the vitamin to be categorically established is its ability to prevent and or cure scurvy. In this role, however, it must affect in some degree every bodily function because the vitamin is needed literally to hold the body’s cell together. Normal development of cartilage, bone, and dentine is dependent upon an adequate supply of vitamin C. Additionally, the basement membrane lining the capillaries, the intracellular cement holding together the endothelial cells, and the scar tissue responsible for wound healing all require the presence of vitamin C for their formation and maintenance.

Although ascorbate is a powerful reducing agent and may be the preferred reductant in certain oxidation-reduction reaction, its action appears to be nonspecific. There are suggestions that the function of ascorbate in the cells may be to balance or to set the redox potential of other cellular, water soluble substances. The oxidized form of vitamin, dehydroascorbate (DHA), is readily reduced by glutathione; therefore it is possible that the main biological role of DHA is to maintain some glutathione in its oxidized form in the tissue. Glutathione serves as a sulfhydryl buffer in animal cells, cycling between its reduced form and its oxidized form.
Vitamin C: Function and Action
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