The Sunshine Nutrient: Vitamin C
Recently I had the good fortune to spend two weekends in a row in two different cities in the Sunshine State. As my husband and I traversed the plethora of small towns decorating the rural side of Florida on the way to our destinations, I smiled every time we passed a road side stand advertising “fresh Florida oranges” for sale. Now, there are many things that are synonymous with Florida in my mind: the smell of Hawaiian Tropic, an ocean breeze, a key lime pie and the proverbial road side fruit stand are but a few to mention. From my much younger days, I remember seeing the countless rows of orange trees standing at diagonal attention while traveling through the middle part of the state with my family during summer vacations, the smell of orange blossom hand cream at the local Five and Dime drugstore and the orange in my stocking on Christmas morning. Of course, being a native Floridian, I think orange juice quite literally runs in my blood, and nothing can make me happier than a freshly squeezed glass of Florida OJ. Needless to say, I love oranges, and the navel orange is my favorite variety of this fruit power packed with Vitamin C, the topic of my blog this week because it is a very important vitamin. Odds are you have heard of Vitamin C, but do you really know this nutrient? For example, did you know another name for Vitamin C is ascorbic acid? By the end of this blog, if you don’t know Vitamin C all that well, you will!
Humans are the only animals that cannot produce or store Vitamin C; therefore, it is essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in lots of food, but mostly in fruits and vegetables.
It is a powerful anti-oxidant which blocks the oxidative stresses in the body that can trigger DNA damage, leading to cancer initiation.
Vitamin C has positive effects on skin health and immune function. It is vital for collagen synthesis (the framework of the skin), connective tissue, teeth and small blood vessels.
Because of its anti-oxidant properties, vitamin C is also cardio protective by acting on several of the pathways involved in the development of atherosclerosis and arterial blockage that can result in stroke and/or heart attacks.
Vitamin C may help boost mood and subsequently fight depression through activation of the receptors for the neurotransmitter, GABA.
Recent studies have shown that Vitamin C boosts longevity by reversing several age related abnormalities found in tissues.
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms include: bleeding gums, frequent bruising and/or infections, poor wound healing, anemia and scurvy (yes, this disease still happens although mostly in third world, underdeveloped countries).
The current daily value for Vitamin C for adults is 90 mg with an upper limit of 2,000 mg. Please note, we should get most of nutrients through food, but if you do supplement, keep in mind too much Vitamin C will cause diarrhea, nausea and stomach cramps. Vitamin C can also have interactions with certain prescription medications.
Bottom line, Vitamin C is essential for your immune system, skin, connective tissue, heart and blood vessel health and may have longevity and mood boosting benefits. A Vitamin C deficiency can have negative effects on your health. Citrus fruits are the most famous source of Vitamin C, but there is a large variety of foods packed with Vitamin C, often exceeding the amount found in the citrus fruits. A diet rich in Vitamin C is a crucial step toward good health and disease prevention. Happy Eating!
Food high in Vitamin C:
Sweet Yellow Peppers
Oranges (saved the best for last!)