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New Developments and Novel Therapeutic Perspectives for Vitamin C

Vitamin C is required for collagen synthesis and biosynthesis of certain hormones and recommended dietary intake levels are largely based these requirements. However, to function effectively as an antioxidant (or a pro-oxidant), relatively high levels of this vitamin must be maintained in the body. The instability of vitamin C combined with its relatively poor intestinal absorption and ready excretion from the body reduce physiological availability of this vitamin. This inability to maintain high serum levels of vitamin C may have serious health implications and is particularly relevant in the onset and progression of degenerative disease, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease (CVD), which have a strong contributing oxidative damage factor. In this review, we examine recent studies on the regulation of transport mechanisms for vitamin C, related clinical ramifications, and potential implications in high-dose vitamin C therapy. We also evaluate recent clinical and scientific evidence on the effects of this vitamin on cancer and CVD, with focus on the key mechanisms of action that may contribute to the therapeutic potential of this vitamin in these diseases. Several animal models that could be utilized to address unresolved questions regarding the feasibility of vitamin C therapy are also discussed.

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