The Gulf Today - Panorama - - NUTRITIVE STEPS - By Abeer Ma­jed Al Kusayer Abeer Ma­jed Al Kusayer Clin­i­cal Nutri­tion and Di­etet­ics, Dubai Hospi­tal – Dubai Health Au­thor­ity

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.

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