Federated Health Charities’ mission is to improve the health and quality of life of all Ontarians by supporting 21 different health charities providing critical services to those experiencing, or affected by, illness. We believe education and prevention are key parts of supporting the health of our communities, so our weekly Health Hint series strives to provide tangible and easy to implement hints and tips on how to maintain your health, prevent disease, and enjoy increased quality of life. Check out our latest Health Hint on Vitamin C. We hope you find it helpful. If you would like to join our efforts to support the health of Ontario, please consider a donation to Federated Health Charities.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant and is one of many vitamins that our bodies require to function. It is responsible for a whole host of roles within the body, including forming collagen for your bones as well as blood vessel, muscle, and cartilage formation. It also acts as a protective agent in our bodies, protecting against molecules (known as free radicals) that are produced to help our bodies do roles such as food breakdown, processing harmful substances (such as smoke or radiation).
Sources of Vitamin C?
The reason it is important to be mindful of Vitamin C is because our bodies don’t produce it on their own. We are required to get it through diet or supplementation. It is ideal to get as much of your daily dose of Vitamin C through diet and only rely on supplementation when you fall short. Generally, you should aim for about 500mg per day of Vitamin C and there are lots of food options to help you get there. Some good sources of Vitamin C include orange juice, spinach, leafy greens, broccoli, peas, sprouts, berries, potatoes, peppers, cabbage, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, strawberries, and tomatoes. The idea of hitting 500mg of Vitamin C may feel daunting, but you can see how quickly it can add up if you include these foods in your daily rotation:
- Cantaloupe, 1 cup (8 ounces): 59mg
- Orange juice, 1 cup: 97mg
- Broccoli, cooked, 1 cup: 74mg
- Red cabbage, 1/2 cup: 40mg
- Green pepper, 1/2 cup, 60mg
- Red pepper, 1/2 cup, 95mg
- Kiwi, 1 medium: 70mg
- Tomato juice, 1 cup: 45mg.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) play very important roles in our body, each one providing its own benefits. The benefits of Vitamin C include:
- Protecting against immune deficiencies
- Aids in prevention of cardiovascular disease
- Reduction of skin wrinkling
- Prevention of eye disease
- Aids in prenatal health
- Aids in wound healing
- Reduces the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration
- Reduces risk of diabetes
- Improves anemia
- Reduces allergies
Vitamin C Deficiency
True Vitamin C deficiency is not overly common as many people get an adequate amount through their diet or supplementation. That doesn’t mean you don’t have to be mindful of it though as there are some lifestyle habits that increase toe probability of becoming deficient and those include:
- Eating a highly processed diet that lacks fruits and vegetables (remember, the primary sources of Vitamin C are fruits and veggies!)
- Smoking or being regularly exposed to second-hand smoke
- Having certain gastrointestinal conditions
- Having certain types of cancer
While severe Vitamin C deficiency is rare, it can lead to serious consequences such as scurvy, loss of teeth, weak bones, increased bruising and bleeding, and anemia.
If you want to ensure your Vitamin C levels are adequate you can ask your doctor to run bloodwork to check your levels.
We hope you enjoyed our latest Health Hint!
Vitamin C: Why is it important?