Friday, July 18, 2014

Vitamin and Mineral ABC's: Vitamin C

Today I am going to be talking about the importance of Vitamin C and just exactly what it does for your body. Unlike what we talked about for Vitamin A, Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which in simple terms means that it won't stay in your body for very long and gets flushed out fairly easily. We've all heard that Vitamin C helps keep the cold away and its found in orange juice and other acidic fruits...but what else can it be helpful with?

What does Vitamin C do for my body?

Vitamin C is known to repair tissue all over the body including bone tissue in teeth and healing skin tissue when wounds are healing. Vitamin C ultimately helps prevent cancers because it fights against free radicals which over time can lead to diseases and faster aging. Some specific diseases it helps fight against include coronary heart disease, strokes, breast cancer, colon cancer, and can even reduce cataracts. Vitamin C also helps increase the amount of iron that the body can use.

Fun Fact: According to the Linus Pauling Institute, women who consumed 205 mg/day of Vitamin C had a 63% less chance of getting breast cancer than those who consumed 70 mg/day.

**According to Medline Plus, taking Vitamin C pills during a cold does not help heal the cold, however if you take the supplements (or eat foods high in Vitamin C) regularly it should make your colds last for a shorter amount of time.

Am I at risk if I have too much/ too little?

The body cannot make Vitamin C on its own, and it also cannot store it for very it is very important to consume it on a regular basis. Way back when, people would get VERY deficient in vitamin C and develop a disease called scurvy (which sounds very pirate-like to me). The symptoms of this would be bruising easily, hair/tooth loss, and swelling in the joints. This is very uncommon for the US though because this sickness can be cured with very little Vitamin C. The only other major risks of not having enough Vitamin C is that you won't be able to process iron in your body as well, wrinkly skin is likely, and you will not form collagen as easily (which is part of a connective tissue).

Taking too much Vitamin C is not really as big of an issue because it streams out of your system so easily. Common side effects of having way too much Vitamin C are diarrhea and nausea.

How much Vitamin C should I consume?

Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Vitamin C
Life StageAgeMales (mg/day)Females (mg/day)
Infants0-6 months40 (AI)40 (AI)
Infants7-12 months50 (AI)50 (AI)
Children1-3 years1515
Children4-8 years2525
Children9-13 years4545
Adolescents14-18 years7565
Adults19 years and older9075
Smokers19 years and older125110
Pregnancy18 years and younger-80
Pregnancy   19 years and older-85
Breast-feeding    18 years and younger-115
Breast-feeding19 years and older-120
 **chart provided by Linus Pauling Institute

To give you a better idea of what these numbers mean, here is a chart of different foods high in Vitamin C and the amount of mg each contain per serving.

Amount of Mg of Vitamin C
Red Pepper
Green Pepper

Hopefully this gives you a sense of relief knowing that some of these foods actually meet your daily requirement with just one serving. Eating these foods is the best way to give your body Vitamin C. Eating produce rather than taking supplements gives your body other nutrients and fiber to work with that supplements do not.

Where can I find Vitamin C?

Vitamin C can be found in many places that you probably wouldn't even think of. It is found in vegetables such as broccoli, red and green peppers, and spinach. Lots of fruits are packed with Vitamin C too such as cantaloupe, citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and watermelon. 

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