Vitamin C is a vitamin that can’t be produced by our bodies, nor can it be stored. Yet due to the varied functions and processes it’s involved in, it’s absolutely vital we are able to consume sufficient amounts of it.
Some of the many critical roles vitamin C plays are
- It is a potent anti-oxidant which means it’s essential in protecting us from free radical damage (which results from environmental pollutants, excessive sunlight, normal metabolism etc). Free radical damage leaves us at risk of heart disease and other lifestyle diseases.
- It is essential in keeping the immune system functioning well.
- It is involved in the synthesis of collagen and helps with skin diseases and disorders such as acne, eczema, psoriasis etc
- It is also involved in the synthesis and maintenance of bone and gum health, as well as connective tissue. It therefore helps in faster healing of cuts and wounds.
- It helps in the absorption of iron.
While vitamin C is available in the form of supplements, the daily requirement is 90 mg per day, which we can easily obtain from a healthy, well-rounded diet. The following foods are rich sources of Vitamin C.
- Bell Peppers
- Amla/Indian gooseberry
- Black currant
- Kiwi fruit
- Moringa oleifera
- Kakadu plums
- Sea buck thorn
While vitamin C deficiency is rare, it is important to understand the signs and symptoms of deficiency. These include bleeding gums, easy bruising, scaly, dry skin and joint and muscle pain. Extreme cases of deficiency lead to a disease called Scurvy.
It’s a good idea to introduce a short-term course of Vitamin C if an individual has a suppressed/compromised immune system, is recovering from surgery or an injury or has a skin condition that would improve with Vitamin C.
However, in people with kidney stones and diabetes, Vitamin C must be consumed with caution. It is generally a good practise to consult a doctor before beginning any supplement.