Vitamin C why we need it and where to get it
Posted on Mar 24, 2017
Back in the early 1500’s, scurvy was the curse of all sailors. It was a disease which stole more lives than those lost in battle and it continued to do so until the mid-1700 when an English doctor discovered that it could be easily cured with a simple prescription of lemon or lime juice. Back in those days they didn’t know the essential component in the lemon and lime was vitamin C.
Fast forward the clock to present day and doctors at Westmead hospital have recently detected scurvy in patients with Type 2 Diabetes. It’s not so surprising when you think that Type 2 Diabetes is a lifestyle related disease and its primary cause is poor diet. Other than diabetes, these patients share something else in common which is that they suffer from vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient with three key functions which act to protect the body from disease.
- The antioxidant properties of Vitamin C help to neutralise free radicals molecules that cause oxidative damage to body cells. Left untapped these free radicals can lead to premature aging and cancer. The antioxidants are also vital to protect against a build-up of arterial plaque to ensure a healthy flow of blood to the heart and protect against heart disease.
- Our skin and connective tissue is made from collagen and the production of collagen is heavily reliant on adequate supplies of vitamin C. Without vitamin C, the body can’t heal. The inability of wounds to heal is one of the first clues to scurvy and vitamin C deficiency. Other symptoms include bleeding gums, bruising, loose teeth, and loss of skin elasticity.
- A good reason to load up on lemons during winter is because vitamin C really does help protect against colds and flus. Vitamin C strengthens the immune system by boosting our white blood cell count, cells which are necessary to detect disease and destroy toxins.
How much Vitamin C do we need?
Although the recommended daily intake of vitamin C (45mg) is relatively low, most nutritionists agree that we can all benefit from more. Stress, smoking and excess alcohol will also deplete the body of vitamin C therefore if you do drink and/or smoke and/or suffer from stress the best advice is to significantly increase your intake.
Where is Vitamin C found?
The table below provides a list of 10 popular fruits and vegetables which provide Vitamin C. Less well known is guava, included because despite being in season for a limited time, it is an exceptional source of vitamin C with one fruit providing more than four times the recommended daily intake. Other great sources of this essential nutrient include, papaya, grapefruit, pineapple, cauliflower, and pomegranate. Although vitamin C is found in most of the fresh vegetables sold in your local greengrocer, being water soluble and unstable to heat, the extent to which the vegetables are cooked will impact how much of the nutrient your body receives. How long you store the produce will also impact the amount of Vitamin C it contains and it will reduce over time.
The golden rule therefore is: Fresh and minimally cooked is best.
TIP: A great way to boost the vitamin C content on cooked veggies, and make them taste better, is to sprinkle some lemon or lime juice over the top before serving.
10 top fruit and veg sources of vitamin C
Vitamin C (mg)
|1. 1 guava||
|2. 1 large orange||
|3. 4 Brussels sprouts (lightly cooked)||
|4. 1 kiwi fruit||
|5. ½ cup raw broccoli||
|6. ¼ red capsicum||
|7. ½ cup strawberries||
|8. ½ cup chopped red cabbage||
|9. 1 medium tomato||
|10. 2 tbs lemon juice||