Here it is — the first in a regular feature of info that is Good to Know. Today: the world’s most famous vitamin.
I’m not kidding. Ask any team on Family Feud to name a vitamin and I’m guessing the number one pick would be Vitamin C.
Sure, everyone can name it, but what do we really know about it?
Did you know that Vitamin C is so critical to living creatures that pretty well every mammal, except humans, can use their own cells to make it? Hmmm… and we’re supposed to be the superior species?!?
A potent antioxidant, Vitamin C disarms free radicals – you’ve heard of them, right? They are those nasty molecules that float around in our body and cause aging and tissue damage. Tissue damage that could cause any number of serious health issues, including the Big C’s – cancer and cardiovascular disease, and for an again population, the development of cataracts. Poor wound healing – a major concern for people with diabetes and other circulatory issues – is a sure sign of Vitamin C deficiency.
If that’s not enough, there’s ample evidence that Vitamin C is a proven immune booster, like in the prevention and treatment of the common cold, recurring ear infections, and many other immunological diseases. Cold and flu season is right around the corner – no time to waste in getting your defenses ready!
Healthy grown ups need a minimum of 75 mg/day for women and 90 mg/day for men, but it is certainly safe and desirable (especially for people who have frequent colds or infections or compromised immunity) to take in double that without adverse effects. In fact, it’s not possible to overdose on Vitamin C. As a water soluble vitamin, excess Vitamin C is not stored but will be *a-hem* eliminated during your next trip to the bathroom, if you know what I mean.
Oddly, orange juice is not the best source for Vitamin C, despite all the marketing and promotion done by Florida orange growers and various giant food companies who compete for ‘share of juice glass’. Processing of any food or juice depletes the nutrient levels, not to mention adding in other undesirable by-products that result from the industrial manufacturing processes. And unless you have an organic orange tree in your backyard, even freshly squeezed juice loses vital nutrition content during the long journey from tree to table. Afterall how long did it take that orange you juiced in your kitchen today to travel all the way from its little grove in the southern U.S. via the food terminal, the grocery store distribution centre and your local store shelf?
So what to do?
Instead of thinking OJ, boost you vitamin C levels by chowing down on bell peppers, preferably locally grown. One cup – any colour - has 174 mg, more than double that of an orange.
Other great sources include: 1 cup broccoli (123 mg), 1 cup strawberries (81 mg) or 3 cups of romaine (80 mg), about the amount in a regular caesar salad. Even 2 Tbsp of parsley (10 mg) can add more sunshine to your daily vitamin intake. And how easy is it to throw that into a smoothie, salad, on top of a pasta dish or sandwich spread each and every day?
More alternative sources include cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, swiss chard, raspberries and kale – each containing 30 – 50 mg per 1 cup serving. And all are available fresh locally which adds to the chances of of keeping level of nutrients, including Vitamin C , intact.
Good nutrition doesn’t have be complicated. Sometimes it’s just good to know about the alternatives so you can make better choices.
Next up: making choices – how does our brain help or hurt us when we are faced with decisions?