Vitamin C: The Super Nutrient

  • 8 February, 2021

V itamin C is an essential water soluble nutrient, also known as L-ascorbic acid, that the body can’t make so it is an essential dietary nutrient, which means it must be consumed for good health to be maintained, or deficiency and disease will result. It is naturally present in some common foods like citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes and tomato juice, potatoes, red peppers, green peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, and cantaloupe.

The body requires vitamin C to make collagen, L-carnitine (used in ) and certain neurotransmitters. It is an essential component of connective tissue which is why it is critical in wound healing. Vitamin C is also an important antioxidant (3) and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body., including Vitamin E. (4) Research is being conducted to study whether Vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effect of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases where oxidative stress plays a causal role.
Vitamin C also improves the absorption of a form of iron called non-heme iron (5), the form present in plant=based foods, our biggest dietary source. (5) It can play a role in preventing anemia, one of the most common illnesses in today’s world. Of particular importance currently is that it also has an important role in immune function. The highest levels of Vitamin C in the body are found in our white blood cells, as well as eyes, adrenal glands (key in stress management), pituitary gland (hormonal regulation), and the brain. There is evidence that it is protective against susceptibility to illness, and some researchers advocate that high-dose Vitamin C can be a very effective treatment for bacterial and even viral infections. In China it is being studied as another possible treatment for the coronavirus.

 

The recommended intake is described as the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance), per the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is as follows: for adult (19+ years) males: 90 mg/day and for females: 75 mg/day. If you smoke, you require 35 mg/day more than non-smokers. Other factors also probably increase the need for Vitamin C, such as alcohol intake, and toxin exposure. Consuming five servings of fruits and vegetables/day can provide more than 200mg of vitamin C, but since many of us do not eat this regularly it is an easy vitamin to take vitamin C supplements. One effective way to do this is to dissolve granular vitamin C into water and sip on this throughout the day. Since vitamin C is water soluble and not stored as fat-soluble vitamins are, this is an excellent way to ensure that the body gets a regular infusion of this vital and protective nutrient, and help maintain a strong immune system in this coronavirus pandemic.

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by Dr. Paula Rhodes

Categories: Article, Food, Local Health

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