Vitamin C – It’s More than Just a Cold Remedy

Vitamin C is a micronutrient and water soluble vitamin that gets a lot of buzz during the fall/winter (aka flu season) for helping our bodies fight off colds. It’s true, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that does help our bodies fight off getting sick – but it does so much more!

Functions of Vitamin C

  • Vitamin C is a cofactor in the reaction that makes a structural protein called collagen. Collagen is abundant in connective tissue (like skin). There’s a lot of skincare products on the market that have vitamin C as a main ingredient – research is looking at how vitamin C might help repair damage from UV light, but more studies need to be done. Hello healthy skin!
  • Vitamin C supplements can shorten the duration of common colds if eaten/taken regularly
  • Vitamin C helps recycle other antioxidants like vitamin E
  • Did you learn about scurvy in grade school? Poor wound healing and gum health…Eating oranges and lemons was used to treat scurvy in the British navy.
  • Wound healing – Vitamin C is involved in the healing of wounds and can speed up recovery time. Eating foods high in vitamin C is something I talked about with patients in my rotations as a dietetic intern for post-surgical healing.

Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods – not just the citrus fruits many people typically think of. Here are some of the foods highest in vitamin C to add into your diet:

  • Kiwis
  • Grapefruits
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Red peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Potatoes
  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Spinach

How much vitamin C do you need?

The RDA for men is 90 mg/day and 75 mg/day for women. 1 cup of strawberries is equivalent to 85 mg. It’s always best to get your nutrients from food sources over supplements (when possible). It’s a good idea to work with a medical provider if considering starting a new supplement.


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