Secret Life of Vitamins

Why can't I get my tap water to do this?

Why can’t I get my tap water to do this?

That’s right, vitamins are more than just a passing fad like skinny jeans or ten minute workout DVD’s. Let’s strip away the pop star facade and go behind the music with these unsung heroes in this segment of “Forgotten Physiology”

Oh come on, you know you’re just a little curious about this topic. I’m willing to bet that you can’t go a day without hearing mention of vitamin C, vitamin D or both of these front page, poster child nutrients. Catchy, sexy phrases like fortified, enriched, and essential, tantalize us into reaching for 4 dollar cereal or that sleek, flashy carton of fresh squeezed, ruby red, cranberry, pomegranate plus tax super juice that moments after consumption leaves you just a little curious to know if “it’s” working. What does getting 120% of your total daily vitamin C at one time feel like Mr. Acai berry, however the hell you pronounce your fancy name? What’s the deal with vitamin D? How do our bodies manufacture it and does America’s mild addiction to Ben & Jerry’s help fill that insatiable calcium void? Let’s probe these and other vitamin mysteries shall we.

That’s C for can’t stop the groove…

Vitamin C is water soluble which basically means that the compound dissolves in water. This is also the reason why we have to replenish Vitamin C so often with our diet since whatever doesn’t get used by our bodys right then and there simply gets passed out through the urine. No, sadly it does not turn our pee the many colors of the rainbow like mystery flavor Koolaid (previously investigated in the name of science). The small amount of vitamin C that is utilized by our bodies certainly makes it count. Vitamin C is just another one of those fun essential components our bodies need that we don’t quite understand until we don’t have enough of it. Through various mystical biochemical pathways our body (as in our cells) utilize vitamin C, A.K.A ascorbic acid to synthesize a protein called collagen, a building block of connective tissue that basically holds us together…no literally. Collagen is in our skin, tendons, and even blood vessels – kind of a big deal

because when you say scurvy I think Johnny Depp

because when you say scurvy I think Johnny Depp

What happens if we don’t get enough vitamin C? The answer is Scurvy, my friends. That’s right, it’s more than just a fun word to say in a pirate’s voice. Scurvy, a severe form of vitamin C deficiency can lead to pale, spotty skin, fatigue, depression, and bleeding gums. It is essentially the breakdown of your connective tissue. Another common feature (as if that wasn’t sexy enough) are the presentation of wounds that are slow to heal. This could be largely connected with vitamin C’s role in immunity and as an antioxidant which protects the membranes of cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs naturally in our bodies from the accumulation of free radicals, another name for stray electrons with no molecules to call home. It’s kind of the price we pay for having to breath oxygen. Eventually electrons from oxygen molecules stray from the herd and raise a little hell binding to molecules on the surfaces of our cell membranes and stripping them away. No worries though, the cool kids (scientists) just refer to this as “aging.” Yes, even you will age someday no matter how youthful and upbeat your facebook profile makes you look (making fun of myself there).

Vitamin C is also an important component of the immune system and is intimately tied to normal white cell function and proliferation…uh…somehow. It’s still a topic of current research so “da facts” are a little vague, sorry guys. Studies have shown that beefing up on vitamin C can promote a speedy recovery from colds.

Now a lot of animals can produce their own vitamin C. Sadly, we are not one of those animals, but hey, we are also the only mammals with grocery stores so….take that Mother Nature!

Oh yeah…and stay tuned for the follow up article about vitamin D..should be a good time.

stay classy my friends and never stop learning 🙂

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