A key nutrient that the body needs to fight infection, heal wounds and keep tissues healthy, including the blood vessels, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bones, muscle, skin, teeth and gums. It is an antioxidant that helps prevent tissue damage caused by free radicals. The body does not make or store ascorbic acid, so it must be taken in every day. It is found in many fruits and vegetables, especially green peppers, citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens, potatoes and cantaloupe. Also called vitamin C.