Vitamins are important substances that the body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins in the body and they are of two types: fat soluble and water soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the adipose tissue and they include vitamins A, D, E and K. Water soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, instead, they dissolve in water and are readily excreted from the body through urine. Watersoluble vitamins include C and B vitamins.
Vitamin C is important for your body. It improves the immune system and maintains the health of the body’s connective tissue including bones, blood vessels and skin. In addition, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant that helps in destroying free radicals which cause cancer. The protective effects of vitamin C have been shown with cancers of the oesophagus, larynx, mouth, pancreas, stomach, colon and breast. It’s also used to prevent damage to our bodies from toxicities such as cigarette smoking.
Vitamin C also helps the body absorb nonheme iron from plant sources. So always make sure that you add lemon juice to your green leafy vegetables like spinach to ensure that you get sufficient amounts of iron.
The recommended intake of vitamin C for men is 90mg/day, while women need 70mg/ day. Due to the increased oxidative stress in the bodies of smokers, their needs increase
35mg more than the recommendations.
Our bodies don’t synthesise vitamin
C and don’t store it. Therefore, adding fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C to our diets daily is extremely important. It’s easy to get vitamin C through foods. Food sources that are rich in vitamin C include berries, kiwi, citrus fruits, strawberries and vegetables such as bell pepper, tomato, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage and dark leafy greens.
Cooking and prolonged storing reduces the vitamin C content of food. Because it is a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C can leach into the water easily while boiling food. Always try to consume raw fruits and vegetables and if cooking is required, the best cooking method would be stir frying for the preservation of vitamin C due to its short duration.
Nowadays, people widely believe that vitamin C can treat or prevent the common cold. However, studies found little to no benefits of vitamin C in treating the common cold.
As vitamin C is not stored in the body, a deficiency of vitamin C may occur if you aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables. Long-term low levels of vitamin C are very detrimental for your health and may result in scurvy. Scurvy is a condition characterised by weakness, skin hemorrhage (bleeding under the skin), gingivitis (gum disease), reduced appetite, anaemia, bleeding hair follicles, shortness of breath, reduced wound healing and reduced immune health among others.
Getting too much of vitamin C may cause side effects such as kidney stones and diarrhoea. However, vitamin C toxicity rarely occurs due to its excretion through the urine.