Vicki Martin, Nutritionist and Naturopath
An overview of Vitamin C: where you find it, what it does, and why you might need a Vitamin C supplement
If colds, flu and sore throats are getting you down, it’s time to take some action. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that can help your immune system get you back on your feet. But there’s more to Ascorbic acid (the technical name for Vitamin C) than meets the eye.
To understand Vitamin C, it helps to know about vitamins in general. They’re natural chemical compounds that allow chemical reactions to occur in your body. If your diet isn’t high enough in the vitamins you need, your normal body functions can break down. That can make you more susceptible to disease and ill health.
We get vitamins mostly from our foods and drinks; and most of our Vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is water soluble, so you can lose it easily when you urinate. That means you need to keep replenishing your levels with the right food several times a day.
We humans are unusual. Most animals produce their own Vitamin C, be we (along with monkeys and guinea pigs) need to have fruit and veges daily to get ours.
Vitamin C has a whole range of essential functions within the body:
Vitamin C occurs in all fruits and vegetables, but especially in:
Vitamin C is easily damaged when you are preparing food. Chopping fruit and vegetables, exposing them to air and cooking them all deplete their Vitamin C levels. So the less time between chopping and cooking, and the less time you cook the food, the more Vitamin C you get.
The Health Department recommends a dietary Vitamin C intake of 30-90 milligrams daily, depending on your age. People who smoke cigarettes should also aim for 35mg more Vitamin C than average adults. This is because smoking depletes Vitamin C levels in the body and causes damage to cells. Medications such as the oral contraceptive and asthma inhalers can also reduce Vitamin C levels in the body.
Another way to boost your intake of Vitamin C is with a Vitamin C supplement. A 1000mg tablet daily will go some way towards helping to boost your immune system if you have cold, flu, or sore throat. Look for Healtheries Chewable Vitamin C tablets as a delicious way to get your Vitamin C levels up. Remember that Vitamin C is water soluble, so you must keep taking it, as your body will use it up quickly if it has an infection.
Thinking of skipping the fruit and vegetables and just taking a supplement instead? If you do, you’ll miss out on a whole range of other important nutrients called flavonoids. They work with Vitamin C to make it even more effective. So keep eating your apples, kiwifruits, broccoli, lettuce, and tomatoes every day as well to help keep the doctor away!
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