We all know about taking some extra Vitamin C when we think we’re coming down with a cold in the winter. But did you know that Vitamin C can be helpful all year long? And even more important in the era of COVID-19, with many of us trying to figure out how to eat to best support our immune systems.
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. Some animals can make their own Vitamin C, but people must get this vitamin from food and other sources. Good sources of Vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits. And of course, you can choose to supplement with it as a preventative if you don’t get enough from your diet.
There are plenty of benefits of Vitamin C. Here are a few:
As a potent antioxidant, Vitamin C reduces oxidative stress in your body. Extensive research shows that diets rich in daily Vitamin C are associated with a lower risk of many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, certain cancers, eye diseases, and neurodegenerative conditions that affect cognitive health.
2. White Blood Cells
Vitamin C may also help to promote the production and protection of white blood cells, which help your body fight off infections. This might be especially relevant to COVID-19 because many infected patients have a low white blood cell count when they contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
3. Skin Health
Vitamin C is part of your external defense system as well, as it plays a primary role in the health and integrity of your skin. This is because daily Vitamin C is needed to produce collagen, the most abundant protein in your body’s connective tissue. It helps strengthen your skin’s barriers, which is important to fight the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses as well as protect your skin along with all of the hand-washing you’re doing. (You are washing your hands a lot, right?)
4. Iron Absorption
Vitamin C boosts iron absorption, which can help prevent iron deficiency. For instance, eating a combination of tomatoes and lentils, or tomatoes and beans, at the same time, can enhance how much iron you absorb. And if you take an iron supplement as recommended by your doctor, take a look at the one that I highly recommend as it contains iron plus Vitamin C to help with absorption.
The question then becomes – how much daily Vitamin C do you really need?
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C varies between 15mg – 120 mg per day. Pregnant and lactating women, and the elderly, should aim for the upper end of that range. The average adult requires 75-90 mg of daily Vitamin C, which you can easily obtain from a healthy, plant-based diet.
However, modern agricultural practices have depleted soil quality around the world, meaning that the soils in which crops are grown have far fewer nutrients than they used to. An analysis of nutrient data from the Kushi Institute, conducted between 1975 and 1997, found that the average amount of Vitamin C in crops had decreased by 30%. I can assume that even more depletion has occurred in the nearly 25 years since the completion of that study.
I have found that the best way to meet Vitamin C needs is to incorporate a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet on a regular basis. (Good sources of Vitamin C along with their approximate Vitamin C content are listed below.) But to also fill in the nutritional gaps with supplementation. And if you’re looking to boost your daily Vitamin C intake well beyond the RDA, then you really need to consider supplementation. There are compelling studies to back up the notion that for some people, vitamin C supplementation could be very helpful, perhaps especially in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’ve done plenty of research and my own due diligence in finding the best supplement. As you may know, some Vitamin C supplements, often in the form of capsules, lozenges, or gummies contain highly processed ingredients, artificial fillers, and ‘natural’ flavorings from manmade sources and are not necessarily the best option. Some also contain added sugars and there’s no reason that you need to get added sugar in a supplement, we get enough of that from our foods on a daily basis!
Depending upon your needs, I recommend 3 options for your Vitamin C needs:
- Sustained Release Vitamin C – clinically shown to raise blood levels of vitamin C for 12 hours throughout your day.
- Chewable Vitamin C – easy to take formula provides the Vitamin C of 1 1/2 oranges in a great-tasting, zero-sugar tablet.
- Vitalized Immunity – a delicious effervescent formula – drop one tablet in water, let dissolve and drink. The amount of Vitamin C equal to 16 oranges!
Amounts of Vitamin C in fruits/veggies:
- 1 medium guava = 126 mg
- 1 medium red bell pepper = 152 mg
- 1 medium orange = 70 mg
- 1 cup of raw broccoli = 40 mg
- 1 small lemon = 30 mg
- 1 small papaya = 95 mg
- 1 cup of raw Brussels sprouts = 75 mg
- 1 cup of raw strawberries = 60 mg
- 1 kiwi fruit = 64 mg
- ¾ cup of diced pineapple = 48 mg
- 1 cup of frozen cauliflower florets = 21 mg
- 1 cup of raw cantaloupe = 57 mg
- 1 large tomato = 25 mg
Note: Some of these are also found on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list, meaning that they’re often high in pesticides when grown conventionally. So it’s a good idea to buy organic produce whenever possible.
I’d love to hear how much Vitamin C you get on a regular basis and whether you feel it’s enough just from your foods or do you supplement for maximum immune support.
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