Vitamin C is probably better known and more widely used than any other nutritional supplement, but even people who are particularly familiar with the uses of this versatile nutrient may be surprised to discover the extent of the health benefits it can provide.
What it is
As early as 1742 lemon juice was known to prevent scurvy, a debilitating disease that often plagued long distance sailors, but not until 1928 was the healthful component in lemon juice identified as vitamin C. Its anti-scurvy, or antiscorbutic, effect is the root of this vitamin's scientific name: asorbic acid.
Today, interest in vitamin C is based less on its ability to cure scurvy than on its potential to protect cells. As the body's primary water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin c helps to fight dmage caused by unstable oxygen molecules called free radicals - especially in those areas that are mostly water, such as the interiors of cells.