Vitamin C and its importance
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the vital nutrients required for good health. It enhances the formation and maintenance of skin, blood vessels, and bones, and is also an antioxidant. The vitamin is water-soluble and does not require storage in the body – this means that consistent consumption of Vitamin C-rich foods is important for the maintenance of healthy Vitamin C levels in the body.
The body requires Vitamin C for proper functioning, and here are some ways in which Vitamin C is important:
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It Boosts Immunity
Vitamin C is known to boost immunity. It does this by enhancing white blood cells production, which is effective for fighting off infections. Vitamin C also boosts white blood cell function and protects the cells from damage from free radicals and other harmful molecules. It is known to be a vital part of the skin’s system of defense where it helps strengthen skin barriers and works as an antioxidant to fight off skin damage.
Studies reveal that for individuals with low Vitamin C intake, their wounds may heal much slower, compared to individuals with much higher intake. Health care professionals will usually recommend getting enough Vitamin C as a way to promote a speedy recovery.
It is found that Vitamin C is great for cardiovascular health in the following ways: they possess antioxidant properties, reduce plaque instability in atherosclerosis, improve the production of nitric oxide and help widen blood vessels. These are effective in the protection of the heart against disease or damage, and high blood pressure.
Other reasons Vitamin C is important are:
- It helps to absorb iron in the body
- It enhances the production of collagen,
- It fights off toxins and other harmful substances, and reduces inflammation, with its antioxidant properties.
Vitamin C and Health
Since Vitamin C is highly important, it should be consumed regularly. Failure to do so can have detrimental effects on health. When there is low Vitamin C intake in the body, an individual may suffer from Vitamin C deficiency. Common risk factors include smoking, alcoholism, poor diet, dialysis, severe mental illness, and anorexia. Here are some illnesses that may arise or persist as a result of Vitamin C deficiency:
Wounds Healing Slowly
Because a lack of vitamin C decreases the rate of collagen production, wounds heal more slowly.
According to researches, persons with chronic, non-healing ulcers are considerably more likely to be vitamin C deficient than those who do not have chronic leg ulcers.
Slow wound healing is one of the most advanced symptoms of deficiency and is usually not seen until a person has been deficient for several months.
Joint Pain and Swelling
Because joints include a lot of collagen-rich connective tissue, vitamin C deficiency can also harm them.
There have been several reports of joint discomfort caused by vitamin C insufficiency, which is causes limping or trouble walking.
However, both of these symptoms are treatable with vitamin C pills and usually resolve within a week.
Bleeding Gums and Tooth Loss
Another common symptom of vitamin C deficiency is red, swollen, bleeding gums.
Gum tissue becomes weakened and inflamed when vitamin C levels are low, and blood vessels bleed more easily.
Gums may turn purple and rotten in advanced stages of vitamin C deficiency.
Teeth can eventually fall out as a result of unhealthy gums and weak dentin, the calcified inner layer of teeth.
Recommended Vitamin C Amounts
There are different sets of values used to measure and recommend Vitamin C intake. One of these is the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) – this considers the average daily intake from foods, as well as supplements. In adult men, the RDA for Vitamin C is 90mg, 75mg for adult women, 120mg for breastfeeding women, and 85mg for pregnant women.
How Can You Increase Your Vitamin C Intake?
There are simple ways to get his done, they include:
- Eat more raw fruits and veggies. Cooking may strip them of vital nutrients, especially water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C.
- Have snack bowls filled with vitamin-C-rich fruits like kiwifruit and strawberry for snacking and make it even more fun by cutting up and refrigerating?
- Consider adding vegetable juice to your meals.
- You could add dried fruit and frozen berries to your cereal, salads, and pancakes.
Generally, fruits and veggies are rich in Vitamin C. However, some are more Vitamin-C-rich than others. Some of the richest sources of Vitamin C include:
- Green and red peppers
- Sweet potatoes
- Citrus fruits
- Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries
- Dark leafy greens
- Brussels sprouts
Cooking Principles to avoid loss of Vitamin C
Generally, heat is known to destroy nutrients, especially water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin-C. Cooking methods like boiling are not healthy ways to cook your veggies because the Vitamin C passes into the water and is discarded. Some studies, however, suggest that heat, nonetheless, can be beneficial for foods like tomatoes, carrots, and spinach. For example, it may facilitate the release of antioxidants when the cell walls break down, There are different ways to ensure that Vitamin C is not lost during cooking, here is a way:
This is considered the healthiest way because it only cooks for such a time. Microwaves heat food from inside out which reduces nutrient loss. The microwaves emit radio waves that in turn excite food molecules generating heat. Splash some water onto the food to prevent it from drying out while microwaving.