February is the month for vitamin C!
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is our very first vitamin of the month that is a water-soluble vitamin! Up until now, we have only discussed fat-soluble vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins are found in the watery compartments of foods and fat-soluble vitamins are found in the fats and oils of foods. Upon absorption, water-soluble vitamins move directly into the blood whereas fats must first enter the lymph (a clear yellowish fluid that circulates the body similar to blood that functions in fat transport) before reaching the blood. The body stores fat-soluble vitamins for your body to use over time as needed. Water-soluble vitamins on the other hand are not stored like fat-soluble vitamins and therefore we must consume foods containing them more regularly.
What are the health benefits of Vitamin C?
Vitamin C works as an antioxidant in the body to defend against free radicals. Still unsure about what antioxidants are? Click here to learn more. As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects the body from oxidative stress and thus may play a role in preventing disease. Vitamin C also helps to form collagen in the body. Collagen is what makes up your tendons, ligaments, scar tissue, and the foundation for your bones and teeth.
While many people believe that vitamin C is the cure for the common cold, research reveals only a modest benefit. It has been found that a daily dose of vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold by only about a day. However, vitamin C does act as an antihistamine to relieve nasal congestion. So whether or not one day without a cold warrants routine daily supplementation is a matter of personal opinion.
How much Vitamin C is recommended?
It is recommended that women consume 75 mg/day and men consume 90 mg/day of vitamin C. To put this into perspective, 1 cup of orange juice provides greater than 100 mg of vitamin C. It is easier than you might think to get an adequate daily dose of vitamin C! As mentioned above (and contrary to popular belief), research shows that hyper-dosing on vitamin C will not prevent you from getting sick; the body will excrete excess vitamin C in the urine. Large doses of vitamin C (more than 2000 mg/day) can cause nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.
What foods are good sources of Vitamin C?
Any type of citrus fruit is high in vitamin C (oranges, lemons, limes, etc.) Broccoli, strawberries, red bell pepper, kiwi, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes are also excellent sources of vitamin C. Drink a glass of orange juice for breakfast, have a salad for lunch, or some broccoli for dinner and you will easily meet the daily recommendations for vitamin C!