Vitamin C is recognised as a powerful ingredient to a healthy diet, holding invaluable properties in aiding health, healing and wellness.
Commonly known as ‘ascorbic acid’ this essential vitamin is recognised as a water soluble, antioxidant vitamin, protecting against harmful effects of pollution and infection, aiding in the prevention of cancer and enhancing immunity.
The cells of the brain and spinal cord which frequently incur free radical damage, can be protected by the inclusion of vitamin C foods within the diet daily. In addition as its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C will detoxify many harmful substances produced by the body, and will strengthen the immune system. Vitamin C will increase the synthesis of interferon, a natural antiviral substance provided by the body, and will stimulate the activity of immune cells.
Vitamin C is also required for tissue growth and repair, adrenal gland function and healthy gums. Additional benefits include aiding in the production of anti - stress hormones, metabolism of folic acid, tyrosine and phenylalanine and increasing the absorption of iron and calcium, helping to maintain capillaries, bones and teeth. This vitamin is also essential in the formation of collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels, and will contribute to haemoglobin and red blood cell production in bone marrow.
Vitamin C also aids in utilization of carbohydrates, synthesis of fats and proteins, and will block the production of nitro amines that can be potentially carcinogenic. Protection against blood clotting, bruising, healing of wounds and burns are also benefits of this vitamin.
Those with nutritional deficiencies, alcohol, tobacco or drug abuse, and those suffering from prolonged or wasting illnesses, severe burns or injuries and excess stress, will benefit from additional amounts of vitamin C within their diet.
Research has shown that adequate intake for vitamin C would be 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams per day for women. Smoking will increase oxidative stress, as a result, it is recommended that a smoker consumes 35 more milligrams of vitamin C per day.
A pregnant women will benefit from a daily intake of vitamin C to aid continual health and foetus formation of bone development, teeth and connective tissue. It must be noted however, that should a prenatal female take mega doses of vitamin C, a newborn baby may develop deficiency symptoms after the birth.
Official US recommendations of vitamin C RDA are as follows:
Infants 0 - 6 months 40 mg Infants 7 - 12 months 50mg Children 1 - 3 years 15mg Children 4 - 8 years 25mg Children 9 - 13 years 45mg Male 14 - 18 years 75mg Male 19+ 90mg Female 14 - 18 65mg Female 19+ 75mg Pregnant female 65mg (if under 18 years old) 80mg Nursing female 120mg (if under 18 years old) 115mg
Examples of vitamin C rich foods and milligrams of vitamin C included are as follows:
Food - Serving Size - Milligrams of vitamin C
Red bell pepper ½ cup 95 Orange 1 medium 60 Strawberries ½ cup 50 Cantaloupe ½ cup 35 Papaya 1 medium 95 Guava 1 medium 165 Tomato juice ¾ cup 35 Mango 1 medium 30
Eating a variety of foods that contain vitamin C - (the majority of vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables) and an additional supplement if required, will ensure that an adequate amount of this essential vitamin is taken.
Research has found that vitamin C will work synergistically with vitamin E - that is, when the two vitamins work together, effect and benefits will enhanced than if they are taken alone. Vitamin E will search for dangerous free radicals within the cell membranes, while vitamin C will attack the free radicals. Working together, these two vitamins will reinforce and extend each other’s antioxidant strength and activity.
Vitamin E rich foods include:
Due to the fact that the body cannot manufacture this vitamin, it is essential that it is included within our diet daily. A supplement may be taken daily, recognising that this is an additional aid and not to be taken as an alternative to including fresh, wholesome intake of such a vitamin daily.
Vitamin C is found in berries, citrus fruits and green vegetables and is best eaten raw or lightly steamed to maintain nutrient value. Sources include:
A vitamin C deficiency will cause disease such as scurvy. This disease is characterised by obvious signs of lack of vitamin C. Symptoms include, poor wound healing, soft bleeding gums, edema, extreme weakness and ‘pinpoint’ haemorrhages under the skin.
More common signs of lesser degrees of deficiency include, gums that bleed when brushed, increased susceptibility to colds and bronchial infections, joint pains, lack of energy, poor digestion, prolonged healing time, a tendency to bruise easily and tooth loss.
Adverse reactions to taking vitamin C would include Anaemia, flushed face, abdominal cramps, nausea and increased frequency of urination. Should these symptoms arise, intake of vitamin must cease and a doctor’s advise must be sought.
In conclusion, we must take responsibility in including a variety of fruits, vegetables and vitamin C rich foods daily in our diet, in order to appreciate all the benefits and resources of this essential vitamin.