(And no, it’s not just important for keeping colds and flu at bay, although that is on the list…)
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves in water. Because the body can’t produce it and can only store a small amount, we need to source vitamin C on a daily basis. This isn’t too hard to do as there are plenty of food sources of vitamin C and lots of vitamin C supplements to choose from. Here we take a look at some of the reasons we need vitamin C, how best to source vitamin C from your diet and what vitamin C supplements we recommend to help keep you covered.
Why do we need vitamin C?
Vitamin C is important for many reasons but especially so for immune health, collagen synthesis and wound healing. It’s also an important antioxidant.
Vitamin C deficiency is a well known cause of scurvy, which is normally associated with sailors being at sea for a long time. Scurvy is relatively rare today but a poor diet, smoking, alcoholism and anorexia can all lead to low levels of vitamin C and related symptoms such as fatigue, dry or bumpy skin, slowly healing wounds, bleeding gums, painful joints, hair loss and of course, poor immunity.
Vitamin C and the immune system
One of the main reasons people take vitamin C supplements is to boost the immune system. Vitamin C is well documented for aiding in the prevention of colds and other infections and one way it does this is by encouraging the production of white blood cells that help protect the body against infection .
Vitamin C can also improve the absorption of iron, which in turn is needed to transport oxygen around the body, keeping cells healthy and fighting fit.
Vitamin C and collagen
Vitamin C is also important for collagen production. Collagen is the main component of connective tissue, which is important for healthy joints and mobility.
Collagen is also important for healthy skin. Healthy skin contains large amounts of vitamin C, especially in the epidermis, or outer layer of skin. Vitamin C also helps to keep skin healthy by protecting it from oxidative damage.
Vitamin C and wound healing
Since vitamin C is needed for collagen production, low levels of vitamin C can slow the rate of tissue formation, which can cause wounds to heal more slowly. Research has shown that people with chronic, non-healing leg ulcers are significantly more likely to be deficient in vitamin C . Slow wound healing is one of the more advanced signs of vitamin C deficiency and typically not seen unless you’ve been deficient for some time.
Food sources of vitamin C
The good news is there are lots of dietary sources of vitamin C. From brassicas to berries there are plenty of foods to choose from. Even strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C. They actually contain more vitamin C than your average orange, although citrus fruits are of course high in vitamin C, as are acerola cherries, blackcurrants, kiwis, red peppers, Brussel sprouts, broccoli and kale. All of these foods contain good amounts of natural vitamin C.
Vitamin C supplements
There are also plenty of vitamin C supplements to choose from. We would always recommend you source your vitamin C from food first because your body recognises vitamins in their natural food state best. Many vitamin C products are made synthetically and the body has a hard time recognising and absorbing synthetic vitamin C.
If you do decide to supplement with vitamin C, here are three of our vitamin C favourites:
1. A.Vogel Nature-C, £8.45 for 36 tablets
Each tablet provides 100mg of naturally occurring vitamin C sourced from fruits. It’s perfect for gently supporting your immune system and also suitable for children over the age of 6.
2. Solgar Ester-C + Vitamin C 1000mg , £13.75 for 30 tablets
Each tablet provides a pH neutral dosage of vitamin C that’s easier to digest and kinder on sensitive stomachs. With additional bioflavonoids that enhance the action of vitamin C, this one’s a gentle immune vit C giant!