If you are like me, the instant you feel the tell-tale tickle of a cold coming on, it’s “Exit, stage right!” toward the bottle of vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C pumps up the body’s immune system – our natural defense system against disease.
Vitamin C is so important for good health that I take it as a daily supplement, preferably one dose of 1000 mg (milligrams) with a glass of orange juice with breakfast.
The current government-recommended daily value (DV) for vitamin C is 90 mg.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning it dissolves in water. Water-soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine so they are unable to build up in the body as fat-soluble vitamins can.
“This is the reason our urine is brightly colored after we take certain water-soluble vitamins,” explained Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine Chris D’Adamo, Ph.D., who is Research Director at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Baltimore.
This is also why humans are unlikely to overdose from taking too much of a water-soluble vitamin – the body naturally pumps out the excess.
You may have noticed that the official DV for vitamin C is 11 times lower than what I consume as a daily minimum (I also get vitamin C from foods and beverages). You might be concerned that I am taking too much, and wondering about how much to take yourself?
I am a petite woman of average weight who hates to get sick. Ten years ago, I survived Graves Disease, a life-threatening condition caused by a weak immune system. Since I recovered, my vow is never to allow myself to become sickly like that again, wasting away to nothingness.
Part of my plan for life-long health is to mind my diet and keep up regular exercise. Many people have gone through similar experiences and reached the same conclusion: living a good, healthy life is, in great part, a choice we make constantly.
Because the kidneys flush out the vitamin C we consume, we need to include it in our food and drink every day. Furthermore, certain combinations of vitamins prove more effective than when taken alone.
Dr. D’Adamo advises taking iron and vitamin C together because Vitamin C helps the body release a higher percentage of iron. “In a study we did, taking iron with vitamin C reduced side effects seen with iron such as constipation and nausea and boosted absorption,” he reported.
Vitamin C has strong antioxidant properties, improves the skin and complexion, and plays an important role in synthesizing collagen and supporting connective tissue, bones, teeth, and small blood vessels.
Signs that you might be low in vitamin C include:
- Bleeding gums
- Easy bruising
- Frequent infections
- Wounds heal poorly
Vitamin supplements are great to treat a sudden illness or to ensure ongoing good health, but getting vitamin nutrition from natural food sources is generally the preferred way to go.
The following foods contain truly impressive amounts of vitamin C:
- Black Currant — 1 cup: 203 milligrams (338 percent DV)
- Red Pepper — 1 cup: 190 milligrams (317 percent DV)
- Kiwifruit — 1 cup: 164 milligrams (273 percent DV)
- Guava — 1 fruit: 126 milligrams (209 percent DV)
- Green Bell Pepper — 1 cup: 120 milligrams (200 percent DV)
- Orange — 1 large: 98 milligrams (163 percent DV)
- Strawberries — 1 cup: 89 milligrams (149 percent DV)
- Papaya — 1 cup: 87 milligrams (144 percent DV)
- Broccoli — 1 cup, raw: 81 milligrams (135 percent DV)
- Kale — 1 cup, raw: 80 milligrams (134 percent DV)
- Parsley — 1 cup: 80 milligrams (133 percent DV)
- Pineapple — 1 cup: 79 milligrams (131 percent DV)
- Brussels Sprouts — 1/2 cup, cooked: 48 milligrams (81 percent DV)
- Cauliflower — 1 cup, raw: 46 milligrams (77 percent DV)
- Mango — 1 cup: 46 milligrams (76 percent DV)
- Lemon — 1 fruit: 45 milligrams (74 percent DV)
- Grapefruit — 1/2 fruit: 38 milligrams (64 percent DV)
- Honeydew — 1 cup: 32 milligrams (53 percent DV)
- Peas — 1 cup, cooked: 23 milligrams (38 percent DV)
- Tomatoes — 1 cup, raw: 23 milligrams (38 percent DV)
As you can see, Florida oranges are only one of many, many super nutritious, super delicious, sources of all-natural vitamin C.
Keep your skin, teeth, bones, and connective tissues in good form while tuning the body’s natural disease defense system by including plenty of water-soluble, unstorable vitamin C in your daily diet.