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Vitamin C is Essential

Kim Shapira
May 6, 2023
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Did you know vitamin C is an essential vitamin that plays a crucial role in our health, and it is one of the easiest Vitamins to include in your diet? Essential means we need it to come from the foods we eat. Supplements are great, they are an insurance- but food, food is better. Keep reading to learn which foods provide your body with the important vitamin.

Vitamin C, is also known as ascorbic acid, and it is a water-soluble vitamin (which means, it doesn’t get stored if we don’t need it, we pee it out or sometimes poop it out.  It is found only in fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, broccoli, bell peppers, and leafy greens. It is an antioxidant, which means it helps protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals (germs, pesticides, pollution, bacterias, virus’ and fungus).

Vitamin C has so many health benefits. It plays a vital role in supporting our immune system by protecting and strengthening our body's defenses against infections and diseases (that start out as free-radicals). In other words, it helps to neutralize harmful free radicals in our bodies, like a defense system. It also supports the production of collagen, a protein that is essential for healthy skin, nails and hair, blood vessels, tendons, and other connective tissues. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron (heme) from plant-based (non-heme) sources- that’s right- if you have low iron levels or eat a low animal protein diet, adding Vitamin C to your meals (tomatoes, a shot of orange juice, citrus fruits) it makes the non-heme iron more absorbable, helping to improve your blood iron levels and storage. ⁠

Vitamin C deficiency can lead to a condition called scurvy, which is characterized by symptoms such as fatigue, weak immune function, bleeding gums,slow wound healing, and joint pain. While scurvy is rare in developed countries due to the availability of vitamin C-rich foods, inadequate intake of vitamin C over time can still result in suboptimal health outcomes.⁠ Do you have any of those symptoms listed above?

It is important to include vitamin C-rich foods in your diet on a regular basis as it can help ensure adequate intake of this important nutrient. Fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, berries, and leafy greens, are excellent sources of vitamin C. It's important to note that vitamin C is sensitive to heat, UV light, and blending, chopping and grinding- it  can be easily reduced and destroyed during cooking or storage, so consuming raw or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables can help maximize its retention.⁠ If you are juicing your fruits and vegetables make smaller portions and drink soon after.

Ensuring adequate vitamin C intake can support your overall health and well-being. Including vitamin C-rich foods in your diet can be a delicious and enjoyable way to meet your nutrient needs. Vitamin C’s antioxidant activity may help reduce inflammation and lower the risk of developing various conditions, including some cancers.

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Kim Shapira

Kim Shapira

dietitian and nutrition therapist.

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