Big news! We're starting a new series on vitamins and minerals in hopes of debunking common myths, sharing information on how these nutrients affect your health, and where the find the best sources. Today, we start with vitamin C. :)
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. What does that mean? Well, a few things. It means the vitamin: (1) is easily absorbed and excreted in the urine, (2) is not stored in the body generally, and (3) because it's not stored, it's needed frequently. Okay, now that we've covered that, let's get into the specifics.
Why do we need Vitamin C? Most people associate vitamin C with the common cold, but, perhaps surprisingly for some, the evidence is mixed. This means that out of all of the studies out there, some show a modest relationship, while others fail to support this common belief at all. So, if there's not a lot of strong evidence supporting the relationship between those pesky colds and vitamin C, do we still need it? YES. Though the evidence isn't overwhelming for the common cold, vitamin C is hard at work in so many other ways.. Vitamin C helps to develop and maintain the body's tissue responsible for connecting our tissues and organs to one another. Did you also know it helps in bone formation? What about wound healing? Every time you smile for the camera, those healthy gums are also a product, in part, to a healthy dose of Vitamin C. It's also an antioxidant, which is a fancy way of saying it protects our body from those dangerous free radicals. And let's not forget its role in metabolism. And the list goes on...
Given all that vitamin C does, you can imagine a deficiency can present itself in a number of ways. Anemia, bleeding gums, dry skin, and even split ends are all signs you may not be getting enough of this super important vitamin.
Okay, so we know vitamin C is important, and we also know we need it frequently (given that it's a water-soluble vitamin, remember). So, how much do we need? The recommended amounts for adult men is 90 milligram per day and 75 milligrams per day for women. (If you're pregnant, breastfeeding or a smoker, you'll need a bit more). Now that we know how much we need, what does that actually look like? Well, to give you an idea, a mere half cup of strawberries has 42 mg, and half a cup of broccoli has 51 mg. So, fortunately, it's fairly easy for us to meet our daily recommended amounts, as long as we load our plates with fruits and veggies.
That said, what ARE the best sources? I bet 9 out of 10 of you immediately thought of orange juice...am I right? Yes, orange juice IS packed with vitamin C, but, along with that vitamin C comes a lot of sugar (and no fiber). If you love orange juice, go ahead and have a glass. But supplement your moderate OJ intake with other whole fruits and vegetables, too. Cantaloupe, citrus fruits, berries, tropical fruits, cruciferous veggies, bell peppers, leafy greens, tomatoes, and even potatoes (sweet AND white!) all help you get your daily dose of this vitamin. So, opt for that extra side of veggies. Grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door. Throw in a few sweet potatoes or leafy greens into your favorite recipe. Or, try a new recipe or two. The bottom line is that any of these simple strategies will help to keep your connective tissues, bones and gums in tip-top shape!
Be well, everyone!