Remember learning about European explorers, who travelled on their long journeys with certain foods like sauerkraut, to help prevent scurvy?  An illness caused by a Vitamin C deficiency. 

… we’ve known about the vital roles nutrients play in promoting health and how deficiencies are instrumental in contributing to illness for a very long time.

If any of our family are unwell or ‘run down’, while there’s no fear of scurvy, I always ‘add in’ a good dose of Vitamin C either with native plants or a good quality supplement (details below) to help fight infection and aid our recovery.

Along with our food and lifestyle choices, it works.  I can’t remember the last time any of us, even the kids who are 13 and 15, went to the Doctor.

So with the change of seasons on the way and bugs aplenty, it’s a good time to consider adding vitamin C into your meals & routine.

And this ESSENTIAL Vitamin is so much more than an immune booster!  Vitamin C is involved in protein metabolism and collagen synthesis i.e. it’s needed to help make these molecules accessible for the body to absorb and use.  It’s also vital for other critical functions including our happiness and youthful skin.

In this post discover 8 great reasons you need Vitamin C daily, especially with the change of seasons, how we become deficient AND simple ways to get more into your day.  

Why Vitamin C is essential in your daily diet.

  1. The body doesn’t produce vitamin C i.e. we simply must get it from our diet i.e. itis an essential nutrient.
  2. 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.

6 more good reasons.

Other than immunity, Vitamin C is necessary for these vital functions;

  1. 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.
  2. Wound repair and maintaining the health of our bones and teeth.
  3. Absorbing iron.   It plays a role in helping our body absorb iron which is necessary for good energy and keeping our blood well oxygenated.  If your iron is low, perhaps vitamin C is actually low?
  4. Preventing cellular damage through it’s function as an antioxidant.  Antioxidants protect our cells against free radicals which we are exposed to everyday.
  5. Builds and maintains healthy blood vessels, helping them dilate and potentially helping reduce high blood pressure.
  6. Brain health and happiness.   Vitamin C helps make neurotransmitters (chemicals assist communication in the brain) including serotonin i.e. our happy hormone!

Why we may not get what we need;

  1. 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.
  2. Medications.  Certain medications, antibiotics and birth control can reduce the amount of Vitamin C in our bodies.
  3. Stress.  Prolonged stress also depletes Vitamin C and this is why we should take extra Vitamin C during periods of stress.
  4. Deficiencies in our food.  The amount of Vitamin C found in food depends on the variety of the plant, soil condition, climate its grown in, the length of time since it was picked, how it’s stored, and then, how the food is prepared.  For example, if you heat fruits and vegetables, or store them in water for a longer period of time, or expose them to light, Vitamin C is denatured and is then less available to your body.


9 Signs of Deficiency.

  1. Easy bruising
  2. Swollen gums
  3. Bleeding gums
  4. Slow wound healing
  5. Gingivitis
  6. Dry and splitting hair
  7. Rough, dry, scaly skin
  8. Nosebleeds
  9. A weakened immune system e.g. inability to shake coughs and colds

The best source.

Our food.  Especially fruits and vegetables, in their whole form, fresh and local;

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 easily and effectively 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.

However, in saying that, with the change of seasons I always add in a Vitamin C supplement.

Specific foods to be adding in;

  1. Fermented and pickled vegetables e.g.  a simple sauerkraut, a basic kimchi and pickled carrots.
  2. Dark leafy greens e.g. kale, silver beet, spinach and other vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts etc.
  3. Herbs e.g. coriander, cilantro, parsley and basil.
  4. Fruit.  Commonly think of oranges, better fruits to choose with more vitamin C; berries e.g. blueberries and strawberries, papaya, kiwi fruit, pineapple and lemons. And the foods with the highest amount of vitamin C are;
  5. Native plants. 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.  If you’re in Australia try the gubinge before the camu camu, it is extremely high in Vitamin C, is a whole food i.e. more absorbable plus you’ll be supporting our local businesses!

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. Check them out. 

Handful of Blueberries


Supplementing: If we need to supplement be certain that the supplements are high quality, they are bioavailable i.e.  in a liquid form (e.g. a lioposomal vitamin C) or powdered, with few ingredients, are free of additives, fillers, or synthetic ingredients and are preferably bottled in glass.

And THE best ways to boost our immune system overall… sleep well, move more and stress less. 

Key Messages

  1. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient and it’s needed in our diet daily, even for our children.
  2. The best source is through breast milk babies (mother), food, fresh, local, raw, gently steamed, however many of us aren’t absorbing well…
  3. Check for any factors that may be inhibiting absorption (listed above).
  4. If you do supplement. Look for a good quality brand in a liquid or powdered form.

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.


Ikaria, a.k.a, the enchanted island of centenarians, has  had a reputation as a health destination for over 25 centuries.  In the 17th century, the bishop of Ikaria, commented, ‘the most commendable thing on this island, is their air and water, both so healthful that people are very long lived, it being an ordinary thing to see persons of 100 years of age’.

Along with their fresh air and water, here are some insights into their long lives:

It is not only what the Ikarians are eating, but what they’re not eating eg sugar and white flour.  Their bread is traditionally made with stone-ground wheat.  And it’s how they eat – even if it’s a lunch break, they relax and enjoy their meals. ‘food is always enjoyed in combination with conversation’.   These traits are common in many European countries, but some stand out.

Noticeably, aside from food, it is their lifestyle ie their social structure that is so important.  In Ikaria, as in most blue zones (pockets around the globe with high numbers of centenarians), older people don’t retire.  In fact work (their purpose) gets centenarians out of bed or the chair.

As Dr Robert Butler, Director, National Institute of Aging in America notes,  ‘being able to define your life meaning adds to your life expectancy’,

More generally,  there’s no word in Greek for privacy… ‘when everyone knows everyone else’s business, there is a feeling of connection and security’.  There is less crime, not because of good policing, but because of the risk of shaming family, friends and community.  If kids misbehave, neighbours have no problem disciplining them.  I like that!

Ikarians don’t know why they live so long. Neither do the researchers.  But they are living longer, and there are probably many reasons, including:

As the author says, perhaps it’s this island ‘ecosystem’ that makes longevity possible.  And, as soon as culture, belonging, purpose or religion are taken out of the picture, the foundation for longevity literally collapses.  This ‘ecosystem’ gives nourishment for the mind and soul. Fundamental for longevity and happiness.
Great, so how can we achieve that in our busy suburban or country lives?  Some ideas:

The overwhelming common trait for longevity, is having a life of purpose.  When we slow down, we create space in our minds and this allows us to see more clearly what makes us truly happy and to be more ‘on purpose’.  To be human beings, rather than human doings.

Then perhaps it’s more about getting our minds in order first? & knowing why we jump out of bed (or our chair) in the morning.

An Ikarian story:  The article shares a lovely story of an Ikarian war veteran, Stamatis Moraitis.  Stamatis arrived in the USA in 1943, when in 1976 he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  His doctors gave him nine months to live. He was in his mid 60’s.  After much consideration, he decided to return to Ikaria, where he’d be buried with his ancestors, and his funeral expenses were less.  He decided not to have medical intervention to manage his illness.  Moraitis didn’t die, his health continued to improve and he is still alive today at the ripe age of 97.

When the author asked him how he thought he recovered from lung cancer, his answer, ‘it just went away’… ‘I actually went back to America about 25 years after moving to Ikaria to see if the doctors could explain it to me’.  ‘what happened’? I asked.  He replied, ‘my doctors were all dead’.

The article is adapted from new material being published from the ‘Blue Zones’, research conducted in specific areas (zones) of longevity in centenarians around the globe.  

‘Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel’ ~ Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 1

Note:  It’s worth noting that the Ikarians, as with my Great Grandmother, are (& were) exposed to very little environmental toxins (preservatives, household cleaners, pesticides, radiation etc) – as the majority of us are today.

(first published November, 2012)

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