Nutrition Meets Food Science

Vitamin C – Appealing Vitamin in Current Times

Know Your Vitamin

In the wake of COVID-19, people have gained a lot of awareness about healthy foods and how it helps to boost immunity against virus and infections. Vitamin C now has a very crucial role to play. There is an increase in consumption of multi-vitamin & minerals supplements from past one year across the country, expert says.

While vitamin C also called as Ascorbic acid is water-soluble micronutrient present in many natural and fortified foods in enough proportion to meet daily values. As this nutrient cannot be stored or synthesized in our body, we daily need to get it from diet.

What Does Vitamin C Do In Body?

Like Vitamin A, B, D and E, Vitamin C also has a prominent role to play in almost all body functions.

Maintains Your Skin and Makes You Glowing

Most of the vitamin C is present in the outer layer of skin. There, it helps in making new collagen. Collagen is a protein found in abundance mainly in our skin, bones, muscles and teeth. In skin, it gives good elastic texture & lightens the pigmentation (dark skin) caused by damages such as harmful UV rays, free radicals, pollutants, etc.

Vitamin C helps in synthesis of this very important protein. Many studies have shown the dependence of collagen on vitamin C for its complete formation. Also, vitamin C in the skin helps to prevent early aging and promote quick healing of wounds or cuts.

Good for optimal bone health

In India, more than half of the elderly population is at risk of poor bone health & fractures. While taking care of bones is little tedious it is still not that difficult when you eat right & move yourself daily. Vitamin c rich fruits & vegetables will help to increase the bone density which is lost gradually with increasing age.

Moreover, this vitamin helps in absorption of other essential bone vitamins like vitamin A & D as well as calcium. Consuming enough of vitamin c along with other nutrient ensures healthy bone mass in premenopausal women & reduces the chance of bone loss among them. On the other hand, Vitamin C has protective nature that is it prevents the risk of bone fracture & muscle damage in elders.

Acts as an Antioxidant

Some substances tend to prevent the body cells from ruptures or any external damage might be caused by harmful radicals. These are termed as Antioxidants.

Vitamins like C & E, and minerals like zinc and selenium are some of the naturally found antioxidants that act like soldier and fight against free radicals that may prevent or delay certain heart disease or cancer. Vitamin C has been proven as effective antioxidant. It protects our lungs, skin, retina of eye, gums & teeth.

Supports your health Immune system

In current time, it is no less than a struggle for one to stay healthy & disease free particularly from viral fevers& flu. It is essential to eat right food that will help to strengthen our natural defense system and makes body strong enough to fight against bacterial and viral infections.

A daily dose of vitamin C can work well to keep you away from these problems.

What Happens In Deficiency Of Vitamin C?

It is advised to take 90mg of vitamin C on daily basis to avoid its deficiency. Deficiency is rare however, a poor diet lacking in this very essential nutrient can cause below problems:

Dry and blemished skin can be observed in those with deficient in Vitamin C because of less collagen available in skin.-

Furthermore, low or underdeveloped collagen may also affect bones and swollen joints.

Bleeding gums or tooth loss is quite common symptom which badly affects the oral cavity and weakens it day by day. In such cases, doctors or dentists may advise to take vitamin C supplements or your dietitian may suggest for vitamin C rich diet.

Anemia can occur due to low levels of vitamin C. Iron is absorbed well in presence of vitamin C in body, so less of vitamin c may affect iron absorption in blood. Also excessive bleeding if occurred may also cause anemia.

The Skin becomes wrinkled at very young age (near to 40s) in those who do not eat fresh fruits and veggies in their regular diet. Wrinkle rings are mostly noticed below eyes and also the skin looks sluggish and dull.

As this vitamin is directly associated with Immunity, poor intake may lead to poor defensive response against diseases. In case of injury the healing process or recovery may take too long. In current scenario of COVID, it is more than important to make sure that your immune system is strong enough to protect body from environmental infections.

Which Foods are high in Vitamin C?

Mostly, all yellow-green-orange fruits and vegetables have good amount of vitamin C. While some great sources are:

Amla (Indian Gooseberry)

Amla is super fruit with highest vitamin C content than any other citrus fruits. It is reported that 100 g of these berries can provide as much as vitamin C as 20 oranges.

It can be consumed ripe as freshly brought from market or you may crush them into juice and drink as vitamin C shots.

Along with vitamin C, it is also good source of fibre which helps in digestion, Vitamin A for healthy eyes, contains certain substances (namely flavonoids) which may boost up brain memory cells.

Oranges

Here comes the cheapest but very important fruit which is more everyone’s favourite because of its natural sour-sweet taste, exotic juiciness and nutritional satisfaction. There are many types of oranges available in the market across seasons. These are versatile food item which can be simply added to any desert like fruit custards, cakes, flavoured biscuits and cookies or any baked foods for munching.

Filled with many antioxidants, oranges help to reduce body inflammation (swelling) and boost immunity against diseases. It is also noted that oranges are good diet option for controlling high blood pressure (hypertension), diabetes and cancer.

Lemons

Another citric fruit, after oranges, which comes in our mind when we think of sour foods, is lemon. They are readily caught food ingredient in our home refrigerators especially now in summer.

Lemonade is the easiest drink you can have to feed thirst as well as to get good amount of vitamin C at a time.

Another minute-made beverage, commonly consumed across world as detox drink can be simply made using lemons along with few mint leaves, slices of cucumber (preferably dark green), spoonful of honey and pinch of herbs. Experts believe drinking a glass of detox water every day boosts body’s metabolism and improve digestion process.

Strawberry

These bite-sized treats are an excellent source of vitamin C. Besides that, they are diverse in other nutrients like vitamin B, fibre, manganese and potassium. Eating 8-10 fresh strawberries in single day can get you enough vitamin C of daily value. Studies have shown eating strawberries may have beneficial effects on reducing heart-related problems.

Tomato

Red juicy tomatoes are basic ingredient in everyday cooking. Tomatoes are great source of antioxidant lycopene, potassium, vitamin B, C and K. Adding them as side ingredient or eating tomato slices as salad is good way to benefit with these nutrients. You must avoid cooking tomatoes for long time as it may reduce vitamin C content.

Broccoli

Broccoli is considered as world’s healthiest food due to its number of health benefits. It has anti-inflammatory property which protects body from damages and also helps to recover from illness.

Rich in omega 3s, it is said to be good for heart health. Moreover, it is trusted to detoxify body from harmful toxins.
Steamed broccoli is the best option to eat. More on it, adding broccoli chunks in creamy or broth soup tastes really great.

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Abir Ansari

Jr. Nutritionist, PFNDAI

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