C is for Health. The Essential Role of Vitamin C in our Diet
Have you ever been told to grab a bottle of vitamin C supplements at the first signs of a cold? There is a certain method in the madness of these “old wives’ tales” which is definitely worth exploring. Indeed, vitamin C is one of the superstars of the vitamin kingdom and dabbles effectively in several systems within our bodies.
Vitamin C – Why an Essential Vitamin?
We know that the word ‘essential’ means vital, critical or indispensable, and this is true of vitamin C. However, when used in a medical sense, an essential nutrient or vitamin is one that cannot be synthesized by the body. Therefore, we need to look at our diets to ensure that we get enough of what we need.
This water-soluble vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid and since the body can neither produce nor store vitamin C, we need to be taking it in regularly.
The Role of Vitamin C in our Body
Acts as a powerful antioxidant which helps to boost our immune system. High antioxidant levels combat free radicals which damage cells in the body and cause chronic illness, such as heart disease.Relaxes the blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart which helps to lower blood pressure, thereby further reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease.Higher levels of vitamin C in the body act on LDL (bad) cholesterol, reducing this factor as well as blood triglycerides.
Vitamin C reduces uric acid in the blood which lowers the risk of developing gout, as well as alleviating the pain and swelling in existing sufferers.Assists with the absorption of iron from foods which helps both with iron deficiency and anaemia.Encourages the production of white blood cells which act as soldiers in the fight against disease and assist with repair – both internally and externally.
Vitamin C is used by the body when creating collagen. Collagen is vital for healthy skin, eyes, ligaments and tendons, and has been tagged as a key anti-ageing element.Assists in wound healing.Antioxidant value slows down ageing.
The central nervous system is highly susceptible to oxidative stress and inflammation, the results of which commonly produce dementia. Vitamin C actively works to reduce oxidative stress, as well as offering a positive effect on thinking and memory.Lowers stress levels.
Which Foods Contain Vitamin C?
When it comes to getting the right nutrients in the right quantities, the trick is variety and moderation. We can safely say that things that grow in the ground or on trees are good for us in reasonable amounts (unless, for instance, we have a nut allergy) so a varied and healthy diet – free from pesticides or genetic modification – is the start of overall wellness.
Which foods can we get vitamin C from? Fresh fruit and vegetables lead the charge here and include:
Melons, Citrus fruits, Mangos, Pineapples,Blueberries, Watermelon, Guavas,
Kakadu plums, also called Billy goat plums, are a fruit native to Australia and are said to be the richest known source of vitamin C. One plum contains over 500 percent of the daily recommended value.
Vegetables high in vitamin C include:
Spinach, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Chilli pepper.
Vitamin C has been closely examined in the medical field for its role in the fight against cancer. From a preventative maintenance perspective, the powerful antioxidant effects serve to protect the cells, while simultaneously boosting the immune system. Studies have been conducted exploring the value of intravenous vitamin C as a cancer treatment with optimistic results.
Surprisingly, vitamin C deficiency is pretty common, despite its availability in everyday foods. Dry hair, rough skin, slow wound healing, bruising, nosebleeds and bleeding gums are all signs of vitamin C deficiency and can be easily treated with a good supplement.
Our bodies are simply amazing and have abilities that we likely will never fully understand.