When you hear of Vitamin C, most people usually associate it with oranges and other citrus plants. But, what do we really know about this popular and essential Vitamin? And do we really need to consume it in a daily basis? Let us now find out what Vitamin C really is and what health benefits it provides to our bodies.
It is also known as L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Meaning to say, your body does not store it hence you need food sources in order to accumulate it. Although deficiency is rare, some people exhibit low levels of Vitamin C. In relation to that, smokers have higher risk to have deficiency since cigarettes tend to lower the amount of Vitamin C inside the body. Signs and symptoms of which include dry skin and hair, nosebleeds, bruising, bleeding gums, decreased healing time, decreased ability to fight infections and even common colds. Also, low levels of Vitamin C increases your risk of having certain conditions such as gallbladder disease, cancers, build up of plaques in the blood vessels, high blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and others. (1)
Now, what does ascorbic acid have to offer to us? And how does it act inside our body? Basically, humans need ascorbic acid for the growth and repair of our tissues. It serves to help our bodies produce collagen, a protein which plays a vital role to make skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. It also aids in the healing of wounds, maintaining teeth and bones, and absorption of iron. (2)
Moreover, ascorbate is known to be a potent antioxidant alongside Vitamin E, beta-carotene, and other plant-based nutrients. As an antioxidant that targets toxins and free radicals that may damage our bodies. And as we all know, free radicals refer to molecules that are unstable and highly reactive causing damage to cells. Because of this damage, it may lead to a number of diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and age-related diseases (1). Antioxidants, like Vitamin C, work by neutralizing these free radicals and oxidative stress thus, preventing the destructive processes that the latter may bring. Being an antioxidant, Vitamin C will significantly boost our immune system in defending itself from diseases and infection. Because of this property that it possesses, it will promote a healthier body and brain, protecting and preventing us from accumulating diseases in the future. (3)
On the other hand, researchers have found that Vitamin C aids in the protection of a number of conditions. This includes heart diseases by reducing bad cholesterol levels, reducing the progression of atherosclerosis, and maintaining more flexible arteries. In this way, it reduces the risk of having strokes, heart attack and peripheral artery diseases.
Studies also suggest that Vitamin C plays a role in the prevention of osteoarthritis. This is because Vitamin C is used to make collagen, a normal part of the cartilages. Now in the case of Osteoarthritis, there is disruption in the cartilage thus putting pressure in the joints and bones. In addition to that, being an antioxidant, Vitamin C also appears to lessen the damage brought about by the free radicals to the joint structures. In this way, Vitamin works in 2 ways in reducing the risk of having Osteoarthritis.
Further researches are yet to be conducted however, Vitamin C may improve vision, maintain gum health, treat allergy-related conditions, reduce the effects of sun exposure, decrease high blood sugar, heal burns and wounds, and aid in the treatment of some viral conditions.
It is important to know which food sources have the highest concentration of Vitamin C. Aside from the popular oranges and citrus fruits, here are the top 10 food sources that have the highest levels in Vitamin C with their corresponding specified portion.
1. Papaya 1 medium = 168.08 g 224% DRI/DV Papaya has been regarded as the “fruit of the angels” because of its sweet and soft, butter-like consistency. Aside from the high level of Vitamin C it contains, papaya is considered to be a rich source of antioxidants such as carotenes and flavonoids, B vitamins, folate, pantothenic acid, fiber, and minerals such as potassium, copper, and magnesium. With these components that papaya contains, the fruit then promotes a healthy cardiovascular system and provide protection against colon cancer.
2. Bell peppers 1 cup = 117. 48 157% DRI/DV Bell peppers are also known scientifically as Capsicum annuum and belong to the nightshade family which also includes potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants. Aside from the rich amount of Vitamin C contained in bell peppers, they are also an excellent source of numerous types of carotenoids. This vegetable also contains significant amounts of other essential nutrients such as Vitamins B6, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, Folate, and among many others.
3. Broccoli 1 cup = 101.24 g 135% DRI/DV Broccoli has been considered to be one of the healthiest foods in the planet. It is known to be an excellent source of Vitamin K, Vitamin C, Chromium, and many other essential compounds. Its health benefits include addressing the development of cancer and its relationship to the three metabolic problems: chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, and inadequate detoxification.
4. Brussels Sprouts 1 cup = 96.72 g 129% DRI/DV Brussels Sprouts are known for its high levels of Vitamin K content, Vitamin C, and folate levels. It has also been shown to play a role in cancer prevention by acting on the body’s detox, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory systems.
5. Strawberries 1 cup = 84.67 g 113% DRI/DV Strawberries have a unique combination of properties which includes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and other essential nutrients such as Manganese, fiber, iodine, folate, and among many others. It serves to have very important benefits to the human health such as cardiovascular support and the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, improved blood sugar regulation and decreased risk of Type II Diabetes, and the prevention of certain types of cancer such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, colon cancer, and esophageal cancer.
6. Pineapple 1 cup = 78.87 g 105% DRI/DV Aside from its high Vitamin C content, Pineapples are also a great source of manganese, copper, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B1, and among many others. It serves to have potential anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits as well as antioxidant protection and immune support.
7. Oranges 1 medium = 69.69 g 93% DRI/DV Oranges are one of the most popular fruits containing high levels of Vitamin C. Aside from that, it also contains significant amounts of fiber, folate, and other essential compounds. Oranges are known for their phytonutrient content, antioxidant properties, immune system support, and protection against cardiovascular diseases.
9. Cantaloupe 1 cup = 58.72 g 78% DRI/DV Aside from being an excellent source of Vitamin C, Cantaloupes also contain other essential nutrients such as Vitamin A, potassium, copper, folate, and among many others. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and has been a promising agent for people suffering from Diabetes.
10. Cauliflower 1 cup = 54.93 g 73% DRI/DV Cauliflower contains high levels of Vitamin C along with other nutrients such as Vitamin K, folate, pantothenic acid, and among many others. It has been strongly linked in the prevention of cancer particularly breast cancer, bladder cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer. It also serves to influence the body’s detox system, antioxidant system, and the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory systems.
Basically, it is recommended to take Vitamin C 2 to 3 times daily with meals. Some suggest taking it at a dose of 250 mg to 500 mg twice daily. (2)
Aside from the daily dosage, it is important to know about the precautions before taking this Vitamin. Vitamin C increases iron absorption so do not take Vitamin C supplements if you suffer from conditions where iron builds up in your body such as hemochromatosis. Also, some interactions include Tylenol, antacids that contain aluminum, barbiturates, chemotherapy drugs, birth control, tetracycline, and protease inhibitors.
Before taking any new supplement, it would be best to consult your healthcare provider first. This is because a person’s condition, health status and other medications taken may greatly play a role and affect your supplementation.References:
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