Vitamin C: The Common Cold Fighter

Man buying oranges
Vitamin C is one of the most well known vitamins, synonymous with oranges and the common cold. (Photo by USDA)

Also called ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is best known as the “Common Cold” remedy. It is an antioxidant. It repairs and regenerates tissues like no other Vitamin does. It is important to know the food sources that are rich in Vitamin C because it can only be supplied externally; your body has no provision to make it. The body also does not store it as Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin; thus, there has to be a constant and consistent supply.

The Benefits of Vitamin C

Healthy Skin

Vitamin C is an essential compound in the synthesis of collagen. A little science here! Collage is the structural protein that holds your skin, hair and other cellular tissues together. The stronger and more numerous the fibers, the better your skin and hair looks. Unfortunately, poor nutrition, lifestyle habits and age can affect collagen production.

It delays skin aging, prevents infections such as eczema, dermatitis and itching. If you are worried about the health of your skin and hair, you can think of doubling your dose of vitamin C. It promotes wound healing and hence doubling the dose after surgery can be beneficial.

Strong Bones and Teeth

It also helps maintain the integrity of bones, teeth and cartilages across the body. A sufficient amount of Vitamin C delays cell damage and repairs damaged tissues.

Heart Health

Vitamin C reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases and strokes, increasing one’s life span. It reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides.

Man getting a flu shot
One of the most misunderstood benefits of Vitamin C is its ability to boost your immune system. (Photo by Fort George G. Meade)

Immunity Boost

Vitamin C helps reinforce a weak immune system. Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C does not cure the common cold. Vitamin C ensures it does not aggravate and develop into more serious conditions like pneumonia and lung infection.

Fights Damage by Free Radicals

It neutralizes the effect of free radicals, by binding to them. These free radicals combined with pollution and the ultraviolet rays of the sun cause severe skin damage. Thus, it might prevent conditions caused by cellular damage such as cancer, arthritis etc. Additionally, nutritionists have claimed that Vitamin C prevents prenatal disorders and improves vision by preventing muscular degeneration.

Are you Deficient?

Below are some common symptoms of Vitamin C deficiency.

  • Easy bruising and slow healing
  • Dull, dry hair with split ends
  • Scaly skin
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness and joint pain
  • Swollen and bleeding gums
  • Teeth loss
  • Gingivitis
  • Leg rashes
  • Poor immune system (recurrent infections)
kiwi and oranges
Citrus fruits are an excellent source of Vitamin C. (Photo by USDA)

Natural Sources of Vitamin C

Citrus fruits like oranges and lemons are the most abundant sources of Vitamin C. You could also include servings of fruits like pineapples, honeydew, apples, cantaloupes, papayas, mangoes, kiwis, watermelon and the berries in your diet. Among the vegetables, you can eat spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, red and green peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and kale. Another good source is cereal and soy milk fortified with Vitamin C.

It’s best to eat these fruits and vegetables in their raw, unprocessed forms. One should stop smoking as it depletes the Vitamin C levels in the body.
If you think you are not getting the recommended amount of Vitamin C through fruits and vegetables, you can consider Vitamin C supplements after consulting your doctor.

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