Vitamin C is one of those micronutrients that everyone’s heard of. When we are feeling sick, we have all heard someone say to us, “Make sure to take your vitamin C!”
The antioxidant function of vitamin C is definitely important for boosting your immune system’s ability to fight off an illness. But is that all it’s good for? Does it help any other conditions? How do I know if I’m getting enough?
Vitamin C is required for hundreds of functions in the body, however, unlike most mammals and other animals, humans cannot manufacture vitamin C. It must be obtained from our diet.
Eating a diet rich in vitamin C is much easier now that we have access to fresh food year round. This is important as obtaining sufficient amounts plays a role in protecting against a number of diseases. Studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation may provide some of the following benefits:
- Reduced risk of certain cancers
- Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease
- Slows the progression of age-related macular degeneration
- Reduced risk of developing cataracts
While extreme deficiency is rare, many people have symptoms of low vitamin C if their intake is low, or if they smoke, drink alcohol or take certain medications that can deplete the body of this essential micronutrient. Symptoms to watch for are:
- Dry hair, skin or nails
- Inflamed gums
- Slow wound healing
- Easy bruising
So how do you know if you’re getting enough?
First, have a look at the list above and determine if you regularly suffer from annoying symptoms such as inflamed gums or nosebleeds, and if you do, read on to find out 5 delicious fresh foods that contain high levels of vitamin C (spoiler alert: oranges is not on top!).
If you have a picky eater whose diet is lacking in fresh fruits and vegetables, supplementation of vitamin C is another great option.
Here are my top food choices for vitamin C content and how to use them in your diet…
Guava – Try guava cut it up on its own or topped with coconut cream for a fresh dessert. Or, add it to your regular breakfast smoothie.
Bell peppers – Red pepper raw on its own or dipped in hummus is very popular in our house. I also love them sautéed with onions and other vegetables as a side dish.
This 5-day meal plan and sugar-free guide includes a recipe with green bell peppers, which are also high in vitamin C. Substitute in red peppers for even more of this vitamin! Reducing sugar at the same time as increasing vitamin C compounds the benefits even more!
Kiwi – I love kiwi cut in half and eaten with a spoon straight out of the skin. Kiwi also adds nice colour to a fruit salad.
Broccoli – Broccoli soup is one of my favourite ways to eat this vegetable. I also love it lightly steamed since it’s so easy and the kids love it.
Strawberries – These are lovely on their own, in a smoothie, or dipped in delicious dark chocolate for dessert!