The Importance Of Vitamin C: Are You Getting Enough?
We all know the age-old advice that eating carrots, because they're high in Vitamin C, will help keep our eyes healthy and oranges can help with the common cold. But did you know that there are other things that Vitamin C could do for you?
- Forming an important protein for making skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels
- Heal wounds and form scar tissue
- Repair and maintain cartilage, bone and teeth
Along with those essential functions, Vitamin C can provide plenty of health benefits:
- May reduce risk of heart disease
- Acts as a strong antioxidant that could reduce the risk of chronic diseases
- Boosts immunity by helping white blood cells function better
- Helps prevent iron deficiencies by improving iron absorption
Additionally, research done by Mayo Clinic shows that Vitamin C is helpful in reducing your risk for many types of cancers as well as helping to prevent eye diseases that may occur as you get older.
What Are Natural Sources Of Vitamin C?
In general, a healthy, balanced diet will give you all the Vitamin C you need. However, Vitamin C can only come from your diet, as the body does not produce Vitamin C on its own. In general, most adults need 75mg to 90mg a day while children's needs range from 15mg to 75mg a day depending on how old they are. However, some people may benefit from higher amounts of Vitamin C, including those who:
- Find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet of fresh fruits and vegetables
- Smoke heavily or are dependent on alcohol or drugs
- Have a health condition that makes it difficult to digest food like celiac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much?
While Vitamin C is considered safe, it is important that you don't overdose on it. Doses over 2000mg per day are considered extreme and may cause heartburn, nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, severe diarrhea and kidney stones.
Vitamin C Supplement Safety
According to the National Institutes of Health, the safety of vitamin C supplements and other antioxidants during cancer treatment is largely inconclusive. Where some data indicates that antioxidants might protect tumor cells from the action of radiation therapy and chemotherapeutic agents, other data suggests that antioxidants might protect normal tissues from chemotherapy – and radiation-induced damage – and/or enhance the effectiveness of conventional cancer treatment.
However, it is unclear whether oral vitamin C supplements could alter vitamin C concentrations enough to produce the suggested effects. Individuals undergoing chemotherapy or radiation should consult with their oncologist prior to taking vitamin C or other antioxidant supplements, especially in high doses.
Additionally, Vitamin C, in combination with other antioxidants, may reduce the increase in high-density lipoprotein levels resulting from Zocor® therapy. Healthcare providers should monitor lipid levels in individuals taking both statins and antioxidant supplements. Individuals undergoing chemotherapy or radiation should consult with their oncologist prior to taking vitamin C or other antioxidant supplements, especially in high doses.
Need a recipe that's packed with Vitamin C? Try this tasty salad recipe!
All ingredients we selected are good to some of the best in providing Vitamin C.
Vitamin C-Packed Salad
- 1 bunch of fresh spinach (about 4 cups)
- 2 red bell pepper
- ½ cup of green onion/scallion (about 4-5 stalks)
- 1 cup of cherry tomato
- ½ cucumber
- 1 cob of fresh sweet corn
- 1 bunch of watercress (about 4 cups)
- 1 head of leaf lettuce (about 4 cups)
- ½ cup of blueberries (trust me, you’ll need this pop of sweetness to offset the sourness of the watercress)
- ¼ cup of your favorite vinaigrette (I recommend a balsamic or lemon vinaigrette, something with a little tartness to balance out our sweeter flavors)
- ½ cup of walnut halves (give them about 5 minutes in a non-stick pan on medium heat for added flavor and texture)
- A pinch of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt (to accent those mildly flavored ingredients and bring everything together)
- Rinse lettuce, watercress and spinach under cold water, then shake off excess water.
- Roughly chop lettuce, watercress and spinach into 2-inch pieces and set aside.
- Rinse then cut bell peppers and cucumber into 1-inch by 1-inch pieces and place in large salad bowl.
- Cut the corn kernels straight off the corn cob (don’t worry if they don't separate right away because they’ll break apart as you toss the salad) and place in the salad bowl.
- Add blueberries to the bowl.
- Rinse, making sure to shake off any excess water, finely chop green onions (scallions) and add to bowl.
- Cut the cherry tomatoes in half then add to the bowl (quick tip: place the cherry tomatoes in between the backside of 2 plates, that way you can make one cut and slice all the tomatoes at once, as opposed to cutting them all individually).
- Add ¼ cup of your selected vinaigrette, the walnut halves and the chopped leafy greens to the bowl. Toss until greens are evenly coated. (I like a lightly coated salad, but you can add more vinaigrette as needed)
- Finally add a pinch or two of freshly ground black pepper and sea salt, and serve.
By Vivek Bhamidipati