Most people know that vitamin C in food is crucial to their overall health. However, few people understand why. Find out everything you need to know about Vitamin C in food and what it can do for you.
What Does Vitamin C Do?
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. The nutrient is found in certain foods and plays a key role in several body functions. For example, vitamin C repairs and regenerates body tissues. As a result, it’s an easy way to get healthy skin1.
The nutrient also protects you from heart disease. If you’re having issues with an iron deficiency, vitamin C can help. By improving your iron absorption, the vitamin allows you to have higher iron levels without taking supplements. You get more from what you eat.
Issues like high cholesterol and cancer are also affected by vitamin C. Typically, the nutrient decreases levels of bad cholesterol. It also fights off cancer by fighting free radicals, one of the common causes of cancer.
Finally, there’s the one superpower that helped vitamin C gain popularity. Vitamin C can impact your immune system. However, it might not help in the way you would imagine. Recent research shows that vitamin C isn’t particularly effective at preventing colds. Instead, it lessens the length and the symptoms of your cold2.
Why Should You Look for Vitamin C in Your Food?
If you’re interested in taking advantage of the many benefits that come with a heightened vitamin C intake, you’re not alone. Enough people buy vitamin C supplements that the market is flooded. But instead of buying a supplement, you can take another route.
Vitamin C in your food is one of the best ways to use the nutrient to your advantage. Despite the many supplements available, they aren’t always as effective as food-based sources.
Consider over-the-counter vitamins. With hundreds of brands and types of vitamin C to choose from, there are too many options.
Many of the vitamins you can buy in stores don’t absorb well into your body. After your body processes the vitamin, you could be left with very minimal vitamin C. Other OTC vitamins might not contain quality ingredients.
There are other supplements that contain vitamin C. But you encounter the same issue. When you buy an unknown brand, you don’t really know what you’re getting.
The supplement might look legitimate. However, it could be loaded with hidden ingredients. You might be getting your vitamin C. Unfortunately, you could also be getting some unnecessary additives.
The Benefits of Vitamin C in Your Food
When you obtain vitamin C in your food, you can benefit greatly. Find out how you can benefit from eating foods with high vitamin C content:
1. You Know What You’re Getting
For one, you know what’s going into your body. There are no secret ingredients or quality control issues. An orange is not manufactured in a lab. Instead, it’s a basic fruit that doesn’t come with an ingredient list. You can’t go wrong.
2. It’s Easy
Convenience is king. Why make your life harder than you need to? When you take a vitamin C supplement, you need to consider the way in which you take it. Some supplements come in powder form. If you don’t have access to a cup and water, you can’t take it.
Other supplements have very specific directions. For example, you might need to take it on a full stomach. When you get your vitamin C from your food, you don’t need to worry about that. You can eat an orange from practically anywhere.
3. The Source is Natural
These days, we put enough unnatural ingredients into our bodies. You might as well take advantage of the natural powers of vitamin C.
What Foods Contain Vitamin C?
If you’re looking for a natural source of vitamin C, you don’t need to spend hours searching the grocery aisles. You can find vitamin C in a variety of fruits and vegetables. Here are a few common sources of vitamin C:
- Citrus fruits
- Red bell peppers
By eating foods that are rich in vitamin C, you can give your body what it needs to perform well. You boost your immunity, lower your cholesterol, and experience other benefits.
How Do You Know You Need More Vitamin C?
Even if you eat your fair share of oranges, you could be deficient of vitamin C. Fortunately, there are some straightforward symptoms that let you know you have a deficiency.
If you are lacking in vitamin C, you are likely to experience weakness, joint pain, bleeding in your gums, rashes on your legs, and fatigue. After a lengthy period of deficiency, you can experience scurvy.
The National Institute of Health recommends that men over the age of 19 receive 90 mg of vitamin C each day3. Meanwhile, women need about 75 mg a day. Women who are breastfeeding need about 120 mg every day.
If you’re a smoker, it’s even more crucial to up your vitamin C intake. Research suggests that smokers require more vitamin C than non-smokers. This is because nicotine decreases your vitamin C levels. If you take aspirin, tetracyclines, oral contraceptives, or barbiturates, the same effect can occur.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin C from your Food?
You can get enough vitamin C in food that you don’t need to supplement. However, supplementing is always an option. Just be sure to choose a supplement that comes from a reputable brand. Before you start taking a supplement, do your research.
If you start experiencing any of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, you should start increasing the amount of vitamin C-rich foods that you eat. In addition to experiencing the benefits that come with ingesting the nutrient, you also experience the benefits of eating healthy. Many of the fruits and vegetables that contain the vitamin also have other healthy nutrients.
Just be sure not to overdo it. If you get vitamin C in food products, you’re unlikely to go overboard. But it is possible. If you experience diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps, you could be taking too much vitamin C.
That said, your body usually gets rid of excess vitamin C through your urine. You can get comfort from eating your vitamin C in food and knowing that you’re making your body healthier.
If you are not able to obtain adequate amounts of Vitamin C from your food consider adding a whole food Vitamin C supplement to your daily regimen.
1. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-C, Vitamin C and Skin Health
2. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002404.htm, Vitamin C
3. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/, Vitamin C