It's the most popular vitamin taken as a supplement. Our need for vitamin C is increased with the oral contraceptive pill, stress, excessive alcohol and smoking.
Vitamin C plays a host of vital roles in the body.
- It helps to fight infection eg the common cold and 'flu.
- Assists in the formation of collagen (a substance which forms the tendons and ligaments which connect our bones and muscles).
- It is essential for the metabolism of some amino acids and the formation of some hormones.
- It enhances the absorption of iron from plant foods.
- Dietary vitamin C is an antioxidant and may offer protection against some cancers and heart disease. It helps to 'mop up' cancer causing 'free radicals' in our bodies; can prevent the formation of cancer-causing chemicals and detoxifies certain drugs and chemicals produced in the body.
- Symptoms include shortness of breath, generalised weakness and lethargy, poor wound healing, lowered resistance to infection, digestive upsets,
- Extreme deficiency causes scurvy whose symptoms include brittle hair, bleeding gums and anaemia often associated with folic acid deficiency.
- A relative deficiency can occur if you regularly take a high dose of Vitamin C as a supplement and then suddenly cease this dose. It is better to wind down a high dose gradually. Pregnant women need to be especially mindful that if they are taking a megadose of Vitamin C through their pregnancy, their baby when born may experience a relative Vitamin C deficiency.
- Most fruits and vegetables (freezing or canning retains most vitamin C while dehydrating eliminates most).
- Best sources are: guava, red capsicum (more than twice the Vitamin C of an orange), brussels sprouts, broccoli, green capsicum, cabbage, cauliflower, parsley, pawpaw, orange, kiwifruit, strawberries and other berries, grapefruit, rockmelon, lemons, limes, lychees and mangoes.
- Loss of vitamin C also occurs with exposure to heat, light and oxygen, so the fresher the source, the higher the Vitamin C content.
- To reduce loses of vitamin C during cooking, do not overcook or use too much water. Steam or microwave are the best methods.
We have all heard how sailors in the past, deprived of fresh fruit and vegetables for long periods often developed scurvy, but did you know that at the other end of the scale, a lack of vitamin C in a mountaineer's diet makes them prone to frostbite?
30 mg/day for adults. 100 mg/day is the most the body and can absorb and much higher levels Adult: 30 - 40 mg per day. More than double this is needed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. More is needed if you smoke cigarettes. & OC
Children aged 8-11 yrs: 30 mg per day
Children aged 12-15 yrs: 30 mg per day
Children and teenagers 16 - 18 yrs: 30 - 40 mg per day
Are you eating enough vitamin C? Put your diet to the test