Vitamins are an essential part of our diet, as they are crucial for our health and wellbeing. We make vitamins after we consume food or supplements, and they provide many health benefits such as preventing health issues due to deficiencies, promoting organ health, and they are involved in every bodily process. In our series Vitamins & Why They Are Vital, we will go over each vitamin’s health benefits, foods you can consume or supplement in order to get the necessary amounts, and how vitamins function in the body, continuing our series with Vitamin C. And in case you missed it, check out our blog about Vitamin B here!
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin that is vital for healing the body and is often used as a supplement when fighting the common cold. The body needs Vitamin C to form blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, and collagen in bones. It also acts as an antioxidant and fights off free radicals (toxins) in the body and decreases the risk of heart disease and some cancers. Vitamin C also is important for storing and absorbing iron in the body.
The body does not make Vitamin C so it must be obtained through food in the diet such as brussels sprouts, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, spinach, and citrus fruits, as well as supplements. Most people obtain enough Vitamin C through their diet, the recommended daily amount (RDA) being 90 mg/day for men and 75 mg/day for women. Smokers/secondhand smokers, those with certain cancers or gastrointestinal problems, or those who have a limited diet of fruits and vegetables may be more deficient in Vitamin C and deficiency can lead to scurvy (swollen bleeding gums).
Since Vitamin C is water soluble, it is sensitive to heat and can be lost in the cooking process. An easy way to avoid losing the Vitamin C in the foods you eat is to practice quick heating techniques such as stir-frying or blanching your vegetables, or consuming raw.
Stay tuned next month to learn about our next vitamin in our series: Vitamin D!