It’s one of the most commonly known and commonly suggested vitamins. Anytime there are sniffles or coughs around someone is bound to say “Hey, make sure you take lots of vitamin C!” Common cold sufferers swear by vitamin C’s healing powers, but many do not fully understand the properties of the vitamin or its full range of benefits.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is water soluble and heat labile (altered by heat). One of vitamin C’s main functions is to work as an antioxidant benefiting hundreds of the body’s metabolic functions.
Vitamin C assists in the body’s production of collagen which in turn leads to strengthened bones, gums, and blood vessel walls. Vitamin C also helps to boost immunity and eliminate free radicals. These benefits make vitamin C essential for those recovering from injuries or sickness.
Vitamin C can be ingested via supplement form or through numerous fruits and vegetables. A common misconception is that oranges contain the highest amount of vitamin C. Surprisingly, guavas, strawberries, lemons, peppers, and Brussels sprouts each have higher milligram counts of vitamin C than oranges.
Other foods high in vitamin C include kiwis, clementines, grapefruits, raspberries, nectarines, peaches, mangoes, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, tomatoes, and potatoes. It is important to remember that cooking foods can destroy significant amounts of vitamin C. It is best to consume raw vitamin C-rich foods as opposed to cooked versions. Leaving the skins on fruits and vegetables while they are cooked can help to reduce the loss of vitamin C.
In addition to being found naturally in fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is also readily available in supplements. Vitamin C can be taken in powdered form, regular tablets, or in time-release formula. It is recommended to take vitamin C supplements with juice or filtered water as regular tap water often contains iron and copper which work to oxidize vitamin C and render it useless.
The FDA recommends that the average adult should have a minimum of 60 mg of vitamin C per day. Since vitamin C is water soluble it is not recommended to purposefully take high dosages daily.
Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body and any excess will simply exit the body as waste. Because of this, too much vitamin C can cause kidney stones, nausea, and diarrhea. For most people, making a conscious effort to eat one vitamin C-rich food a day (or taking one daily supplement if none of those foods are available) should be enough to help maintain a healthy body and stave off the sniffles.
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