The history of vitamin C is an interesting one. Most animals can produce their own vitamin C, yet somewhere along the evolutionary line, humans and other higher primates, guinea pigs, most bats, and some species of birds or fish lost their ability to synthesise this important nutrient.
We can’t make vitamin C, and our bodies cannot store this essential nutrient either so we are heavily reliant on getting plenty into our daily diet. It is a water-soluble nutrient, so any that is consumed and not needed, leaves the body through urine. Cooking vitamin C-rich foods, storing them for a long period of time or exposure to light can all reduce the vitamin C content, hence why the best sources of vitamin C are raw or gently steamed fruits and vegetables – eaten as fresh as possible.
Vitamin C & your health:
• Collagen formation - the body’s major building protein. Vitamin C is therefore essential for the maintenance of healthy connective tissue, which gives support and structure for other tissue and organs.
• Wound healing – Vitamin C’s role in connective tissue makes it an important nutrient for wound healing. Decreased wound healing rate.
• Support a healthy immune system – A recent review of 20 double-blind, placebo-controlled trials suggests that vitamin C does appear to help shorten the duration of a cold and reduce the severity of symptoms.
• Cardiovascular health - Vitamin C appears to protect LDL cholesterol from damage, and in some trials, cholesterol levels have fallen when people supplement with vitamin C.
• Antioxidant – Vitamin C helps to protect cells and tissues from free radical damage.
• Antihistamine – Vitamin C helps to reduce histamine and so may reduce the symptoms of hay fever.
• Balanced stress response – Studies have shown that supplementation with vitamin C helps to normalize stress-hormone levels.
• Exercise – Supplementation with vitamin C may improve exercise performance and recovery.
Top 10 food sources of vitamin C:
• Peppers (red, green, yellow, chilli)
• Dark leafy greens
• Guava & Papaya
• Citrus fruit
• Kiwi fruit
• Mange tout
Increase your daily vitamin C
Unfortunately the typical Western diet (high in refined sugar and convenience food, and low in fresh wholefoods, fruits and vegetables) fails miserably when it comes to vitamin C. Most people will benefit from the dietary addition of a daily vitamin C supplement. Choose vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid or as buffered mineral ascorbate if you have a more sensitive gastrointestinal system. For general health, around 1000mg daily is recommended, however if you have increased needs you may need to take a higher dose for a limited time.