Understanding what Vitamin C does

Understanding what Vitamin C does

Author -  Vicki Martin, Nutritionist and Naturopath

Naturopath Vicki Martin explains what Vitamin C does and where you can find it

What exactly is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient in your diet because your body can’t produce its own supply. It’s a water-soluble vitamin that quickly breaks down when it’s exposed to heat and air. This means it only lasts in your body for a short time – so you have to take it in through your diet every day.

Vitamin C – the versatile vitamin

our body uses Vitamin C to form a protein called collagen. Collagen is a building block for all kinds of tissues in your body from skin to ligaments to bones. That makes Vitamin C important for maintaining supple, healthy skin; and for helping to heal cuts, burns and other wounds.

Other functions Vitamin C helps with include maintaining strong healthy teeth and gums, and supporting normal activity in your glands. It assists your red blood cells by helping your body to absorb the Iron they need. This means that cells throughout your body get the oxygen they need, which supports your energy levels. Plus, Vitamin C helps your body to convert cholesterol into bile acids, which are essential for digesting fatty foods. They can also help to prevent gallstone and kidney stones.

Of course, one of Vitamin C’s best known roles is as an ally for your immune system – especially your white blood cells, which help to fight off infections. But it’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps to protect the cells all over your body from free radical damage. Because oxidative damage from free radicals contributes to many of the visible signs of aging, some people even call it “the youth vitamin”.

Where can you find Vitamin C?

The best sources of Vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables. Heating them starts to break the Vitamin C down, so the more lightly you cook your food, the better. Particularly Vitamin C-rich foods include:

  • Acerola cherries 
  • Guavas
  • Blackcurrants and strawberries
  • Capsicums
  • Lychees 
  • Oranges, lemons and other citrus
  • Kale leaves, spinach, watercress and other greens 
  • Parsley
  • Turnips
  • Brussels sprouts and cauliflower

Be careful though: smoking, alcohol and some medications can lower your Vitamin C levels. That means if any of these feature in your life, you may need extra!