As oranges are the fruit of the week we’re going to have a closer look at the incredible health benefits of just one of the many vitamins and minerals they contain and the one they are perhaps best known for: Vitamin C
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, is a water soluble nutrient and in terms of health benefits is perhaps one of the most important vitamins.
What are the health benefits?
- It is an effective anti viral agent and very important for the immune system
- It plays an important role in the healing of wounds, burns and bleeding gums
- It helps reduce cholesterol
- It is a natural laxative
- It is a powerful antioxidant protecting the body tissue from the damage of oxidation and free radicals (free radicals are potentially damaging by-products of the body’s metabolism which can cause cell damage that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer)
- It is needed to make collagen which is a protein essential for healthy gums, teeth, bones, cartilage and skin
- It is needed to make neuro transmitters such as noradrenaline which regulates blood flow and serotonin which helps promote sleep
- It helps the body absorb iron from plant food
So which fruits and vegetables contain Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of most unstable vitamins and is easily destroyed by oxidation (exposure to air), exposure to light or high temperatures. The best sources are fresh, raw fruits and vegetables such as:
Apple, apricot, asparagus, avocado, banana, beetroot, bell peppers, blackberry, blackcurrant, blueberry, broccoli, brussells sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupe melons,carrot, celery, cherry, chestnuts, cranberry, cucumber, cauliflower, courgette, fennel, garlic, ginger, grape, grapefruit, green pepper, guava, kale, kiwi, lemon, lettuce, lime, mango, mint, melon, nectarine, orange, papaya, parsley, parsnip, passion fruit, peach, pear, peas, peppermint, pineapple, pomegranate, raspberries, spinach, squash, strawberry, sweet potato, swiss chard, tomato, watercress, watermelon, wheatgrass.
Humans are unable to produce their own vitamin C from glucose unlike animals so we need a regular intake from our food.
As Vitamin C improves iron uptake, it is essential to vegetarians or people who do not eat much meat because the iron present in many plant foods is absorbed more efficiently when these foods are accompanied by foods or fruit juices containing viramin C.
Severe deficiency will cause scurvy, tiredness, loss of appetite, sore and bleeding gums, slow wound healing and increased susceptibility to infection.
Certain drugs can diminish the body’s supply of Vitamin C e.g. birth control pills, Nsaids like aspirin, cortiosteroids, sulfa drugs and barbituates.
Smokers need at least twice the amount as non smokers as smoking can deplete vitamin C levels in the body.
Surplus vitamin C is safely excreted in the urine however in susceptible people mega doses may lead to kidney stones, sleep disturbances and stomach upsets.
Watch this space …
for more a delicious juicy recipe bursting with Vitamin C goodness