The over-indulgence over the festive season, combined with a heightened amount of stress and a good deal of sleep deprivation, often leads to a weakened immune system. This makes one more prone to colds, flu, post-holiday depression, and chronic fatigue. The moment you are seeing even the slightest symptoms of one of these, you should take action. One of the best ways to prevent a shaken immune system and stay in top shape physically AND mentally is to increase your intake of Vitamin C.
Vitamin C is one of the safest and most effective nutrients, experts have confirmed. The benefits of vitamin C include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling. Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis showed vitamin C was beneficial to individuals whose immune system was weakened due to stress. Vitamin C affects cells on the inside and outside of the body. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined links between nutrient intakes and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. It found that higher vitamin C intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of a wrinkled appearance, dryness of the skin, and a better skin-aging appearance.
Vitamin C is necessary for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. It’s involved in many body functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals, as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke.
Other studies have suggested that vitamin C may also:
The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is an Australian native superfood containing 100 times more vitamin C than oranges.
Kakadu plums contain up to 5,300 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, making it the richest known source of this vitamin. Just one plum delivers around 530% of the DV. It’s also rich in potassium, vitamin E and the antioxidant lutein, which may benefit eye health.
Just one-half cup of acerola cherries delivers 913% of the recommended DV for vitamin C. The fruit may even have cancer-fighting properties, although human-based research is lacking.
The rose hip is a small, sweet, tangy fruit from the rose plant. It’s loaded with vitamin C. Rose hips provide 426 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Around six pieces of this fruit deliver 132% of the DV and encourage healthier-looking skin.
One green chili pepper contains 109 mg of vitamin C, or 121% of the DV. In comparison, one red chili pepper delivers 65 mg, or 72% of the DV.
Moreover, chili peppers are rich in capsaicin, the compound that is responsible for their hot taste. Capsaicin may also reduce pain and inflammation.
There is also evidence that approximately one tablespoon (10 grams) of red chili powder may help increase fat burning.
The vitamin C content of sweet or bell peppers increases as they mature.
Just one-half cup (75 grams) of yellow peppers provides 137 mg of vitamin C, or 152% of the DV, which is double the amount found in green peppers.
One-half cup (56 grams) of blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) contains 101 mg of vitamin C, or 112% of the DV (20).
Antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins give them their rich, dark color.
Studies have shown that diets high in antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins may reduce oxidative damage associated with chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases
Even just sprinkling 1–2 tablespoons (3–6 grams) of fresh thyme over your meal adds 3.5–7 mg of vitamin C to your diet, which can strengthen your immunity and help fight infections.
While thyme is a popular remedy for sore throats and respiratory conditions, it’s also high in vitamin C, which helps improve immune health, make antibodies, destroy viruses and bacteria and clear infected cells
Thyme contains mopre vitamin C than most culinary herbs with 160 mg per 100 grams. One ounce of fresh thyme provides 50% of the DV for vitamin C.
Parsley contains 133 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Sprinkling two tablespoons of fresh parsley on your meal delivers 11% of the DV for vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption.
One cup of raw chopped mustard spinach provides 195 mg of vitamin C, or 217% of the DV.
Even though heat from cooking lowers the vitamin C content in foods, one cup of cooked mustard greens still provides 117 mg of vitamin C, or 130% of the DV (31).
As with many dark, leafy greens, mustard spinach is also high in vitamin A, potassium, calcium, manganese, fiber and folate.
One medium kiwi packs 71 mg of vitamin C, or 79% of the DV.
Studies have shown that the vitamin-C-rich kiwifruit may help reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol and improve immunity.
A study in 30 healthy people aged 20–51 found that eating 2–3 kiwis every day for 28 days reduced blood platelet stickiness by 18% and lowered triglycerides by 15%. This may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Another study in 14 men with vitamin C deficiency found that eating two kiwis daily for four weeks increased white blood cell activity by 20%. Blood levels of vitamin C normalized after just one week, having increased by 304%.
One-half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 49 mg, or 54% of the DV for vitamin C.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, manganese and potassium.
Both vitamins C and K are important for your bone health. In particular, vitamin C aids the formation of collagen, which is the fibrous part your bones.
Lemons were given to sailors during the 1700s to prevent scurvy. One whole raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83 mg of vitamin C, or 92% of the DV.
The vitamin C in lemon juice also acts as an antioxidant.
When fruits and vegetables are cut, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. This triggers oxidation and turns the food brown. Applying lemon juice to the exposed surfaces acts as a barrier, preventing the browning process
One lychee provides nearly 7 mg of vitamin C, or 7.5% of the DV, while a one-cup serving provides 151%.
Lychees also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which benefit your brain, heart and blood vessels.
Studies specifically on lychee are unavailable. Nonetheless, this fruit provides plenty of vitamin C, which is known for its role in collagen synthesis and blood vessel health
Persimmons are an orange-colored fruit that resembles a tomato. There are many different varieties.
Though the Japanese persimmon is the most popular, the native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) contains almost nine times more vitamin C.
One American persimmon contains 16.5 mg of vitamin C, or 18% of the DV.
One cup of strawberry halves (152 grams) provides 89 mg of vitamin C, or 99% of the DV (52).
Strawberries contain a diverse and potent mix of vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, folate and other beneficial antioxidants.
Studies have shown that due to their high antioxidant content, strawberries may help prevent cancer, vascular disease, dementia and diabetes
The Bottom Line
Vitamin C is vital for your immune system, connective tissue and heart and blood vessel health, among many other important roles.
Not getting enough of this vitamin can have negative effects on your health. A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step toward good health and disease prevention.
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