The human body varies greatly in its vitamin C requirement. It's natural for one person to need 10 times as much vitamin C as another person, and a person's age and health status can dramatically change his or her need for vitamin C. The amount of vitamin C found in food varies as dramatically as our requirements.
Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals, by-products that result when our bodies transform food into energy. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and vitamin E, are an important part of the body’s defense against muscle damage from exercise. Strenuous exercise increases the body’s production of free radicals, which, in turn, can cause muscle damage manifested as swollen or painful muscles. While exercise increases the body’s natural defense against free radicals, athletes who engage in intense training may benefit from the addition of antioxidant supplements to their diet.
Vitamin C is also required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It is necessary to form collagen, an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. As a constituent of collagen, vitamin C may contribute to the body’s immune defenses in an even more fundamental way. The skin and epithelial lining of the body's orifices, both of which contain collagen, serve as the first line of defense. Vitamin C is essential for the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth. Beyond that, vitamin C acts against the toxic effects of environmental pollutants by stimulating liver detoxifying enzymes and as an anti-inflammatory.