8 reasons We Must Eat Vitamin C.
Remember learning about European explorers, who travelled on their long journeys with certain foods, to help prevent scurvy? An illness caused by a Vitamin C deficiency.
A history lesson on nutrition ... and shows just how long we've known about the vital roles different nutrients play in aspects of our health and how deficiencies are instrumental in contributing to illness.
This week we've had one of the kids sick at home with a bug, and while there's no fear of scurvy, I've been giving them a Vitamin C supplement to help their recovery.
So with the change of seasons on the way and bugs aplenty, it's a good time to talk about this ESSENTIAL Vitamin that is so much more than an immune booster!
It's vital for many critical functions including our happiness and youthful skin...
In this post you'll discover 8 good reasons we must have Vitamin C daily, how we easily become deficient AND simple ways to get more into our day. (Although at the end of a long wintery week I've had a strong yearning for another type of Vitamin Sea)!
The other type of Vitamin Sea - essential to me - I'm missing at this time of year!
Why Vitamin C is essential in our diet.
- Our bodies don't produce it i.e. we simply must get it from our diet. It is essential.
- It is a water soluble vitamin which means our bodies don’t store it and we need to ingest foods with vitamin C on a daily basis to maintain the amount our bodies require.
Interestingly, the cells of nearly all animals on the planet make their own vitamin C. Humans and other primates are unique in that we need vitamin C in our diet.
6 more good reasons.
Other than boosting our immunity, Vitamin C is needed for other vital bodily functions;
- Healthy, youthful skin. It helps produce collagen which is great for our skin and thereby helps to prevent premature aging. Collagen is necessary for strengthening bones, joints, tendons, and ligaments.
- Wound repair and maintaining the health of our bones and teeth.
- Absorbing iron. It plays a role in helping our body absorb iron which is necessary for good energy and keeping our blood well oxygenated.
- Preventing cellular damage through it’s function as an antioxidant. Antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals which we are exposed to daily.
- Builds and maintains healthy blood vessels, helping them dilate and potentially helping reduce high blood pressure.
- Brain health and happiness. Vitamin C helps make neurotransmitters (chemicals assist communication in the brain) including serotonin, our happy hormone!
Why we may not get what we need;
- Caffeine. Drinks and food containing caffeine such as coffee and tea can inhibit the absorption of vitamin C plus the diuretic effect of these drinks mean we excrete the vitamin C in our urine.
- Medications. Certain medications, antibiotics and birth control can reduce the amount of Vitamin C in our bodies.
- Stress. Prolonged stress also depletes Vitamin C and this is why we should take extra Vitamin C during periods of stress.
- Deficiencies in our food. The amount of Vitamin C found in food depends on the variety of the plant, soil condition, climate where its grown, the length of time since it was picked, how it is stored, and then how the food is prepared. For example, if we heat our fruits and vegetables, or store them in water for a longer period of time, or expose them to light, Vitamin C is denatured and less available to our bodies.
9 Signs of Deficiency.
- Easy bruising
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Slow wound healing
- Dry and splitting hair
- Rough, dry, scaly skin
- A weakened immune system and inability to shake coughs and colds
The best source.
Our food. Especially fruits and vegetables, in their whole form, fresh and local;
- Uncooked and raw.
- Cut and prepared as soon as possible to eating.
- Steamed instead of boiled or baked.
Eating foods in their most natural and whole forms give our bodies more nutrients and the 'co-factors' i.e. the other nutrients and enzymes that allow those nutrients to be more easily absorbed by our bodies.
While many of us turn to supplements first, it's important to emphasise the best source of any vitamin, mineral, or nutrient is fresh, raw and local food sources.
Specific foods to be adding in;
- Fermented and pickled vegetables e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi and pickled carrots and ginger.
- Dark leafy greens e.g. kale, silver beet, spinach and other vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts etc.
- Herbs e.g. coriander, cilantro, parsley and basil.
- Fruit. Commonly think of oranges, other fruits with more vitamin C include; berries e.g. blueberries and strawberries, papaya, kiwi fruit, pineapple and lemons.And the foods with the highest amount of vitamin C are;
- Camu Camu, a fruit from the amazon and Kakadu plum also called, gubinge or billygoat plum and is grown in the North of Western Australia in the Kimberley. These foods usually come in a powdered form and can be found at your local health food store. (And if you're in Australia try the gubinge before the camu camu and support local).
These foods can easily be added into our meals or another easy way to add them in, is in smoothies. I've got lots of great smoothie ideas on my site.
Supplementing: If we need to supplement be certain that the supplements are high quality, they are bioavailable i.e. in a powdered or liquid form with fewer ingredients, are free of additives, fillers, or other synthetic ingredients and preferably bottled in glass.
And THE best ways to boost our immune system overall... sleep well, move more and stress less.
- Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and it's needed in our diet daily, even for our children.
- The best source is through breast milk babies (mother), food, fresh, local, raw, gently steamed, however many of us aren’t absorbing well…
- Check for any factors that may be inhibiting absorption (listed above).
- If we do supplement. Look for a good quality brand.
And some more inspiration and information on boosting our immunity simply;
A checklist for great immunity. 24 tips to nurture and nourish.
14 tips your immunity will love.
7 tips to improve gut health.
Be curious. Experiment. Listen. Be enriched.