Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and Bioflavonoids

INTRODUCTION

Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) and Bioflavonoids:
By definition, the Bioflavonoids are a group of natural Polyphenols, soluble in water, present in many fruits, especially citric fruits, and essential for the absorption and metabolism of Vitamin C. These substances are not vitamins “per se”, but were denominated “Vitamin P” by their discoverer, Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Hungarian investigator who received the Nobel Prize for his discovery of Vitamin C. Dr. Szent-Gyorgyi detected the great efficacy of the Bioflavonoids in resolving problems of hemorrhagic gums, hence his name of Vitamin P due to the protective action on capillaries.

Currently there are around 4,000 different types of Bioflavonoids, all fully characterized and classified. Those extracted from citrus fruits are the following:

- Naringin, from the Grapefruit (Citrus Paradisi).
- Hesperidin, from the Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis).
- Quercetin and Rutin, from the Bergamot (Citrus Aurantium) and Mandarin Orange (Citrus Reticulata).
- Diosmin, from the Lemon (Citrus Limon) and the Lime (Citrus Aurantifolia).

Once absorbed from the intestinal tract, Bioflavonoids pass into the blood circulation and are distributed throughout the organism. They are excreted in the urine and in sweat.

Animal organisms cannot produce Bioflavonoids themselves, and so they must be ingested via the diet. Among the physiological benefits of the Bioflavonoids, widely investigated in Human Medicine, we can highlight the following:

Activity: Antioxidant and “hunter” of Free Radicals, with a great Cytoprotective effect that reduces cell ageing.

Protective effect on the Cardiovascular System. Vasoprotector effect that, combined with its antioxidant effect, results in the reduction of the risk of coronary and cardiac alterations.

Effect on Lipid Peroxidation, inhibiting the enzymes that cause this.

Anti-inflammatory Activity, in addition to inhibition of the production of substances that intervene in inflammatory processes (histamines), the Bioflavonoids have healing properties, stimulating phagocytosis, enzyme production and proteolysis in the oedematous fluid present in damaged tissues.

Anticarcinogenic Activity, in addition to anti-mutagenic effects, in animals as well as man, Bioflavonoids improve the effects of other anti-tumour compounds.

Stimulation of the Immune System, especially in the gastrointestinal milieu.

Antiviral Activity, by affecting the capacity of infection and replication of Adenovirus, Coronavirus and Rotavirus in cell cultures. In addition, Bioflavonoids have been used to treat Influenza virus in mice. The United States Department of Agriculture tested the efficacy of grapefruit extract, rich in Bioflavonoids, against viral infections such as Foot and Mouth Disease, African Swine Fever, Swine Vesicular Disease and Avian Influenza.

Bioflavonoids have intrinsic Antibiotic and Antifungal properties (great activity against Candida Albicans fungi), as well as exhibiting analgesic and diuretic actions.

Bioflavonoids protect Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) from natural degradation and oxidation, caused by humidity, light and contact with air.

The association of Bioflavonoids and Ascorbic Acid results in synergistic effects in relation to antioxidant, antimicrobial, immunostimulant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities, as well in relation to cardiovascular protection and inhibition of lipid peroxidation.