Vitamin C - The Most Essential Nutrient Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) is a vitamin only because it is a nutrient essential for life that is not manufactured in the body and must be obtained from outside sources. Every living thing on this planet except primates (Including man) and guinea pigs produce their own Vitamin C internally, do not require it in their diet, and do not suffer from a host of diseases and maladies caused by Vitamin C deficiencies. Vitamin C is manufactured internally from glucose by a four-step process, each requiring a specific enzyme. Humans have the first three enzymes but the fourth is damaged and non functional apparently from a genetic mutation that occurred in our distant ancestors. It seems that we really have a species wide genetic disease. Perhaps fixing this genetic defect should be a primary goal for the genetic engineers of this century. There is a fifth step in vitamin C cycle, the conversion of ascorbic acid into mineral ascorbates in the liver. The price of vitamin C deficiency is staggering. Mammals with the enzyme can live 8-10 times their maturity age. Mammals without it have a hard time living to 3-4 times their maturity age. Therefore, if humans had the gene to make their own vitamin C, the human life span could be more like 300 years. Humans have cardiovascular disease and arthritis while other mammals do not. Humans are also more susceptible to viruses and infections than animals with their own vitamin C. What Vitamin C Does for Us What does vitamin C do for us? There are more than ten thousand published scientific papers that make it quite clear that there is not one body process and not one disease or syndrome that is not influenced by vitamin C. Vitamin C is particularly known for these functions: * Antioxidant Activity - Free radicals cause oxidative damage to cells and organs, accelerates aging, contributes to arteriosclerosis and cancer. Vitamin C is a powerful and important antioxidant. * Collagen Synthesis - Collagen is the foundation of all connective tissue, literally everything that holds the body together. Scurvy is the result of deterioration of the blood vessels resulting in hemorrhage, bleeding gums, bruising, loose teeth, tendency of bones to fracture, etc. Maladies affecting tendons, ligaments, skin, bone, teeth, cartilage, heart valves, intervertebral discs, cornea, and eye lens also result from vitamin C deficiency. There is a long continuum between scurvy and optimum tissue integrity. Most of us suffer from sub-clinical scurvy. * Immune System - Vitamin C is a requirement for the proper functioning of our immune systems. It is involved in white blood cell production, T-cells, and macrophages. Without Vitamin C in adequate quantities, our own body's best defense against disease is left without fuel. * Cardiovascular System - Cats and rats do not develop arteriosclerosis. The antioxidant properties of vitamin C help prevent the formation of arterial plaque. The support of connective tissues enables arteries to be strong and elastic, reducing the risk of aneurisms, stroke, and other problems.