vitamin series: c
I thought it would be fitting to discuss today’s vitamin because of the crazy increase in colds this fall season. My husband and I both got knocked out by the common cold last week–coughing in the middle of the night, stuffed up noses, nasal voices, etc. I always thought that living in a warm climate would help us avoid all those illnesses, but we got caught in the trap! I’m still not getting my flu shot though…
Anyway, vitamin C is a familiar vitamin that we all feel pretty comfortable about. It’s found in all fruits and veggies, it’s nearly impossible to overdose on it, and it helps cure the common cold…maybe. This vitamin helps build and repair body tissues; heals wounds; and maintains cartilage, bones, and teeth. It is also an important antioxidant, which means that it helps the body block damage from free radicals, those pesky buggers that contribute to aging and possibly some diseases, like cancer and heart disease. There’s an awesome face serum by Ole Henriksen that’s made of vitamin C. It helps scarring and age spots…and smells like oranges! This is not an advertisement for it, I just happen to love it. It’s a bit out of my price range, though.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin which means that it can’t be stored in our bodies–all extra vitamin C comes out in our urine. Yum. Our bodies also can’t make vitamin C on our own, so it’s really important that we include it steadily in our daily diet.
Like I had mentioned, vitamin C is found in all fruits and veggies. If you’re looking for a bang for your buck, go with citrus fruits, berries, pineapple, any leafy greens, tomatoes, and green and red bell peppers. The vitamin C content remains highest when you eat the foods raw, so maybe hold off on frying your pineapple or whatever bizarre things you do on the reg. You can also do what we did and buy the largest Costco box of Emergen-C. We’ll be drinking it for the next 12 years.
So what is the role of vitamin C in the common cold? Well, it won’t prevent a cold. It does help make the cold shorter and milder. So yes, up your C intake when you’re sick, but don’t expect any miracles.
It’s really difficult to overdose on vitamin C, but it’s suggested to keep it under 2,000 mg/day. This avoids any upset stomach and keeps your body happy. The normal daily recommendation for male adults is 90 mg/day and for female adults is 75 mg/day. One orange is around 50 mg, 1/2 cup of strawberries is around 45 mg, and about 1/2 cup of broccoli is 40 mg. As you can see, it’s not difficult to hit the daily requirement through natural food sources!
It’s also possible to be deficient in vitamin C. Some symptoms of a deficiency are anemia, bleeding gums, crappy immunity (can’t shake that cold?), and skin bruising easily. If you let your deficiency get out of control, you can develop scurvy. Yup, brings you right back to that Oregon trail computer game. Don’t try to ford the river, your oxen may die.
photo credit: Food in Action