▪ Abstract 

Ascorbic acid synthesis in the pig occurs at mid-pregnancy, but activity of the enzyme -gulono-γ-lactone oxidase (GLO) declines thereafter during gestation and remains low when the pig nurses the sow. During late gestation the ascorbic acid concentration in the fetus increases, but serum and liver ascorbic acid concentration in the sow declines without affecting the dam's liver GLO activity. It is presumed that as gestation progresses an increased amount of maternal ascorbic acid is transferred to the fetus and to the mammary gland. Colostrum and milk are rich sources of the vitamin and supply the nursing pig with ascorbic acid. The available data suggest that high amounts of ascorbic acid appear to suppress liver GLO activity in the pig. Upon weaning, when exogenous vitamin C is generally not provided, liver GLO activity and serum ascorbic acid increases. During the initial periods postweaning, some reports have indicated growth benefits of supplemental vitamin C. Body tissues differ in their concentrations of ascorbic acid, but tissues of high metabolic need generally have greater concentrations. The corpus luteum in the female, the testis in the male, and the adrenal glands in all pigs contain greater concentrations of the vitamin. Knockout genes preventing ascorbic acid synthesis in pigs have demonstrated poor skeletal and collagen formation and poor antioxidant protection. Under periods of stress ascorbic acid declines in the adrenal, but the pig rapidly recovers to its resting state once the stressor agent is removed. Although there are periods when supplemental vitamin C has been shown to promote pig performance (e.g., during high environmental stress and early postweaning), supplemental vitamin C has not been shown to routinely enhance pig performance.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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