Did you know that pirates were at risk for scurvy due to a lack of Vitamin C? They were out on the seas for so long that they didn’t have fresh produce to give them the nutrient that keeps scurvy at bay! Luckily, none of us are pirates, and we have an abundance of foods that provide Vitamin C, so no scurvy for us!
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It yields no energy, but provides many great benefits! Also called ascorbic acid (which literally means “without having scurvy” . . . acid), this vitamin is abundant in our modern society, where foods that are rich in it are plentiful!
RDA: Men: 90 mg/day Women: 75 mg/day Upper Limit: 2000 mg/day
Note – if you’re a smoker, you’ll need to add 35 mg/day to your daily intake. That’s because smoking is an oxidant, and much of your Vitamin C intake will work to undo the damage you’re doing!
Deficiency: Scurvy! This comes with anemia, pinpoint hemorrhaging, joint pain, bleeding gums and loose teeth, and bone and muscle degeneration. (Eyepatch and peg leg not included.) Luckily, this can be easily reversed with just about five days of 100 mg/day.
Toxicity: Too much of anything isn’t a good thing! In this case, too much Vitamin C will lead to GI distress and can lead to urinary problems and kidney stones.
Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat and oxygen.
What does Vitamin C do for my body?
This nutrient is one of the best antioxidants we have at our disposal. It helps to eliminate free radicals in our body (a molecule with one or more unpaired electrons, which are highly reactant). It does this by offering up its own electrons, neutralizing the free radical. This helps to protect our body tissue from oxidative stress (damage done by free radicals), and can therefore help to prevent disease.
By preventing iron from oxidiation in our intestines, Vitamin C helps to enhance iron absorption. It’s a good idea to consume foods high in Vitamin C and those in iron together to reap these benefits!
Vitamin C is a cofactor in forming collagen, a fibrous connective tissue made from proteins. Collagen is found in so many places in our bodies. It makes up the structure on which bones and teeth are formed, it forms scar tissue,and it allows for the elasticity of our blood vessels. Iron is a cofactor in collagen, too, and with Vitamin C helping iron absorption, they make a pretty great team!
Vitamin C has a lot of other benefits, too, but they’re pretty sciency, and I’m all scienced out after that lipids article. Suffice it to say, the vitamin does a whole lot of other great things in metabolism and disease treatment!
Where can I get Vitamin C in my diet?
When most people think of Vitamin C, citrus fruits come to mind. But, there are others that you may not have thought of!
Fruits and vegetables are the stars when it comes to this great nutrient. The other food groups just don’t have it, or have it in such small amounts that it’s inconsequential. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits probably are the most popular for their content. But would you think of broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, leafy greens, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and strawberries? Probably not! Think reds and deep greens when you think of Vitamin C!