Vitamin Expert

Vitamin C

Vitamin name
Vitamin C
What’s it used for? Antioxidant, production of collagen, immune support, metabolism of brain neurotransmitters
Best food sources Citrus fruits, tropical fruits, strawberries, red and green peppers, melons, dark green leafy vegetables
How much do I need? NRV is 80 mg per day*
Need to know Humans can no longer manufacture vitamin C so it needs to be present in the diet daily

*A Nutrient Reference Value or NRV is the recommended level set by the UK Department of Health for daily nutrient intake

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is probably the most widely recognised of all vitamins. It’s an essential nutrient that must be obtained from the diet; many thousands of years ago, humans lost the ability to manufacture vitamin C in the body. It is destroyed very easily by cooking, storing and food preparation, therefore care needs to be taken to ensure adequate daily intake.

Why do I need it?

Vitamin C is our major water-soluble antioxidant present in blood plasma and cells. This means that it helps prevent oxidation of other water-soluble molecules that could create free radicals – harmful molecules that accelerate the ageing process and cause degenerative disease. Although humans can no longer manufacture vitamin C, fortunately it’s abundant in many fruits and vegetables, therefore is readily available.

The importance of vitamin C to human health first became apparent during the 1800’s when sailors were away at sea for long periods. They developed a deficiency disease called scurvy. Once it was realised that citrus fruits helped cure it, English sailors were nicknamed ‘limies’ hence the name has stuck ever since!

Vitamin C is key for collagen production which is the protein that predominantly gives our skin its structure, hence its popularity in beauty products. Vitamin C also helps stimulate the immune system and supports the body’s resistance to stress. It is key in the production of brain neurotransmitters, the body’s main signalling mechanism.

Best food sources

Most fruits and vegetables deliver good amounts of vitamin C. Whilst citrus fruits are traditionally believed to contain the highest amounts, other fruits are actually higher.

Foods high in vitamin C

Guava – 200 mg per 100g
Blackcurrants – 200 mg per 100g
Broccoli – 89 mg per 100g
Strawberries – 80 mg per 100g
Oranges – 50 mg per 100g

Are you getting enough?

Scurvy had been completely eradicated in the developed world, but more recently some cases have been reported. Severe deficiency is rare, but the body does not store vitamin C at all and it’s quickly excreted, therefore symptoms such as frequent colds and infections can develop as a result of a lack of vitamin C.

In addition, low energy, bleeding or tender gums, bruising easily, nose bleeds and slow wound healing are all signs that there is a potential lack of vitamin C.

Did you know?

Smoking, stress, increased exercise, chronic disease and diabetes all deplete vitamin C in the body
Whilst it can be lost during cooking, steaming foods helps protect vitamin C content
Levels are also reduced during storage; potatoes lose 50% of their vitamin C in five months
Vitamin C is safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding at the recommended dosages – indeed it’s particularly helpful for a successful pregnancy outcome: consult your healthcare professional for further advice
Vitamin C is readily used by the body within about two hours after eating or taking a supplement, therefore it’s best taken in divided dosages throughout the day

For all the latest research on vitamin C click here

Try this

Vitamin C is found in the Alive! range of multivitamins and minerals

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