Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that cannot be accumulated in our body. Let us discover together vitamin C benefits, sources, and how much vitamin C per day.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, belongs to the group of so-called water-soluble vitamins that cannot be accumulated in our body, but must be regularly taken through the diet. Vitamin C is a necessary substance for the normal growth and health of cells and tissues. It is a micronutrient, that is, a molecule required by the organism only in small quantities, but which is essential for its well-being. Unfortunately, it cannot be stored in the body. Being a water-soluble vitamin (dissolves in water) the body easily eliminates it. In order to have enough available, it is therefore, necessary to take it regularly with food. In addition to melting in water, vitamin C is sensitive to oxygen, heat, and light, so it is completely lost in case of cooking in water.
Sources of vitamin C
Vitamin C is mainly found in foods of plant origin. Stand for the contribution of ascorbic acid: citrus fruits, other sour fruits (such as kiwis and apples), peppers, parsley, cabbage, strawberries, etc. However, the concentration may vary according to the species, the degree of ripeness, and the conditions of storage and treatment before consumption. Vitamin C degrades rather quickly, so it is advisable to keep these foods no more than 3-4 days and consume them raw or otherwise little cooked, to enjoy fully the vitamin C benefits.
Here is a list of foods that contain more vitamin C per 100 gr:
- Hot pepper 229 mg
- Blackcurrant 200 mg
- Peppers 151 mg
- Kiwis 85 mg
- Brussels sprouts 81 mg
- Cauliflower 59 mg
- Strawberries 54 mg
- Spinach 54 mg
- Oranges and lemons 50 mg
Keep reading to know vitamin C benefits.
Vitamin C benefits
Vitamin C plays many important functions in the body. There are several vitamin C benefits and the most famous is probably the antioxidant one. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which counteracts the action of free radicals, those waste molecules that, when produced in excess, can cause premature aging. The antioxidant action of vitamin C protects cells from oxidative stress, making them more resistant and ensuring their long life. Besides, it also provides benefits in cancer prevention and treatment.
Among vitamin C benefits, another one is to strengthen the immune system. Since ancient times vitamin C has been used as a remedy for seasonal diseases, such as flu and colds. The reason is that vitamin C has an immunostimulating power; indeed, it increases the action of defense of immune cells and is involved in the processes regulating the production of antibodies. It also detoxifies the body and minimizes the effects of exposure to smoke or pollution toxins, as well as alcohol and drugs.
Vitamin C is useful in case of anemia. It helps to absorb iron, especially that present in foods of vegetable origin. This type of iron (called "non-heme", because it is not associated with hemoglobin) is less bioavailable than iron in food of animal origin (known as "heme iron"), which means it is more difficult to absorb. The simultaneous presence of vitamin C increases the bioavailability of non-heme iron. For this reason, it is useful to season green leafy vegetables such as spinach, which is a non-heme iron source, with lemon juice, which is a natural source of vitamin C.
Another important point between vitamin C benefits is to promote the production of collagen, an important component of the skin, ligaments, and blood vessels. It is also necessary for the synthesis of some neurotransmitters and L-carnitine (molecule involved in fat metabolism) and participates in protein metabolism. Finally, this micronutrient participates in wound healing and scar formation and helps repair and maintain healthy cartilage, bones, and teeth. In general, it is considered a substance necessary for the growth and repair of all tissues in the body.
How much vitamin C per day?
According to the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU), the recommended intake of vitamin C is 105 mg per day for men and 85 mg per day for women. At some stages of life, however, it can increase. For example, during pregnancy, the recommended intake is 100 mg per day, then rising to 130 mg per day during breastfeeding. In children and adolescents, however, the requirement is lower. Inadequate contributions, especially if prolonged in time, can have negative consequences for health.
Vitamin C deficiency involves symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite, muscle pain, and increased susceptibility to infection. The first organs to be affected are bones, cartilage, and connective tissues.
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