What You C Is What You Get
Perhaps the most well-known vitamin is the all-important C, also known as ascorbate acid. But for all of its popularity, it may be one of the least-understood vitamins. We all know we need it, but why? And what happens if we don’t have it?
Vitamin C builds tissue and collagen. Playing the role of protector to our bodies, it heals wounds, while strengthening bones, cartilage, and teeth. The mighty C mobilizes iron, stimulates the immune system, and battles free radicals. This powerhouse helps prevent colds and the flu, and some researchers believe it even blocks the growth of cancer cells.
Vitamin C is recommended in high doses for people who suffer from acne, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, autism, depression, and Parkinson’s disease. Low levels of Vitamin C have been linked to a variety of ailments including gall bladder disease, poor healing of wounds, bleeding gums, frequent colds, easy bruising, anemia, gingivitis, respiratory infections, high blood pressure, and buildup of plaque in arteries. I wonder how many folks could stay out of the doctor’s office simply by boosting their intake of Vitamin C!
The Wash-away Vitamin
Because Vitamin C is water-soluble-meaning our bodies can’t store it-we need to monitor our diets to ensure that this life-giving vitamin is part of our daily lives. And since our bodies don’t synthesize Vitamin C, we need to ingest it regularly.
Fortunately, Vitamin C is plentiful and available in many different foods, but unfortunately, that doesn’t always assure we get the Vitamin C we need. What factors contribute to a deficiency of Vitamin C? One obvious answer is that many people simply don’t eat the right foods or take C supplements. But a too-often overlooked cause is the inappropriate preparation and storage of foods that contain Vitamin C.
About 25% of Vitamin C is lost when foods are blanched, boiled, or cooked. Freezing also contributes to the loss of potency in Vitamin C-rich foods. When fruits and vegetables are canned and then reheated, only about one-third of the original Vitamin C content remains. The best way to obtain Vitamin C dietarily is through eating raw foods.
The following foods, in particular, ought to be regulars on your grocery list because they are excellent sources of Vitamin C:
Mustard and turnip greens
To prevent the loss of Vitamin C in food preparation, follow these techniques:
- Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible.
- Steam, boil, or simmer foods in a small amount of water.
- Cook potatoes in their skins (be sure to wash the dirt off the outside of the potato first!).
- Keep cut, raw fruits and vegetables stored in an airtight container and refrigerate (but not in water-if raw foods are stored in water, the inherent Vitamin C will dissolve).
C for Yourself
I try to provide my family with ample amounts of Vitamin C through a good diet. But in reality, we sometimes come up short. Busy schedules, food likes and dislikes, food availability, and other factors mean that I, as my family’s nutritionist, must make sure our bodies are supplied with Vitamin C through supplements.
- Gentle C comes in capsule form. For family members who can’t (or dislike) swallowing pills, the contents of the capsules can be dissolved in drinks or sprinkled on foods. Gentle C has an added benefit of calcium which, when combined with the Vitamin C, provides an easily digestible supplement commonly known as buffered C. The added benefit of citrus bioflavonoids supports blood flow.
- Rosehip C delivers the vitamin as ascorbic acid through tablets. It offers an extra boost with acerola powder and rose hips. Rose hips-provided by the berry-like fruit derived from rose bushes after the bloom has dried-provide a higher C content than citrus fruits. Acerola powder contains high levels of C as well as magnesium, potassium, Vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, iron, calcium, and phosphorus. The addition of acerola gives Rosehip C more power to assist with illnesses and may prevent colds and flu.
“Vitamin” is derived from the Latin word vita, meaning “life.” Vitamins sustain life, and none is more essential than Vitamin C. One way or another, it’s up to you to make sure you give your body all the C it needs.