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why do we need vitamin c in our body

Our bodies cannot make Vitamin C; therefore, we must get this essential nutrient through the food we eat. Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a form of antioxidant which helps certain enzyme systems in the body to make collagen в the protein that gives skin and gums their structure. Natural sources of Vitamin C We all know citrus fruits and juices such as orange, lemon, lime or mandarin are rich sources of vitamin C. The richest known food source of vitamin C is actually an Australian native bush food called the green plum with over 3000mg per 100g. Vitamin C gives these foods their tart, sour flavour. However, vitamin C can be found in a variety of other foods, including vegetables such as tomato, capsicum, broccoli and potato. Avocados are also a rich source of vitamin C. Half an avocado contains 24% of the recommended dietary intake of vitamin C for adults. Did you know? Because vitamin C is water soluble it can dissolve in cooking water and be lost once the water is thrown away. To prevent this, either steam or microwave vegetables or keep the cooking water for soups and stews. A Helpful Vitamin Vitamin C assists other nutrients. It helps us absorb the mineral iron from plant foods and absorb copper. Vitamin E is another antioxidant, and vitamin C helps vitamin E return to its normal state once Vitamin E has protected the body against free radicals that can damage tissues. Vitamin C helps stabilise the B vitamin folate and Vitamin C also helps stop fruits and vegetables from browning.

These foods contain an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. When these foods are cut and the surface comes in contact with oxygen in the air, an enzyme called polyphenol oxidase starts to change some of the natural chemicals in the food, turning them brown. Vitamin C will react with the oxygen first and when it runs out, the food will start to turn brown. Adding extra vitamin C in the form of lemon or lime juice to the surface of cut avocado for instance, then removing the air around it by covering in cling wrap and refrigerating will help stop the avocado from turning brown. Now thatвs one helpful vitamin! Author: Lisa Yates, Consultant Dietitian Adv APD
Lisa Yates is an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian with 16 years experience in nutrition, communications, clinical practice, as well as strategy development and implementation. Pictured Recipe: Vitamin C burst into prominence back in the 1970s, when Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling claimed that high doses could stop cancer and might be the long-sought cure for the common cold. Alas, neither claim has quite held up under scrutiny. Vitamin C doesnБt prevent colds. Nor does taking large doses slow or stop cancer. But PaulingБs instincts were not entirely wrong. There are still many sound reasons to get plenty of C. Researchers have long known that vitamin C is an essential building block of collagen, the structural material for bone, skin, blood vessels and other tissue. Failing to get enough vitamin C causes inflammation of the gums, scaly skin, nosebleed, painful joints and other problems associated with scurvy.

In addition, many studies show that eating foods rich in C can reduce the risk of developing cancer, particularly cancers that strike the mouth and digestive tract, according to Jane Higdon, a nutrition scientist at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant, able to neutralize unstable oxygen molecules that might otherwise damage DNA. Recent findings suggest it may also protect against Helicobacter pylori, bacteria linked to both stomach cancer and ulcers. A 2003 study at the San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center reported that people with high blood levels of vitamin C are less likely to test positive for infection by H. pylori. The vitamin appears to inhibit bacterial growth. Vitamin C is also proving to be friendly to the heart and arteries. Analyzing data from more than 85,000 women in the Nurses Health Study, researchers at ChildrenБs Hospital, Boston, reported in 2003 that those with the highest intake of C had the lowest risk of heart disease over a 16-year period. Here, too, the antioxidant effect may be at work, preventing damage to artery walls that can promote cholesterol buildup. But vitamin C seems to protect in other ways as well. In 2004, scientists from the University of Oslo reported that after volunteers ate two or three vitamin-C-rich kiwis a day for 28 days, platelets in their blood were less likely to clump together and form small blood clots that can jam arteries and lead to heart attack or stroke.

Eating kiwis also lowered triglycerides, or fats in the blood, by 15 percent, an effect that scientists credit to kiwisБ vitamin C, E and polyphenol content. Getting plenty of C may be especially important for pregnant moms and infants. Last year a study in Seoul, South Korea, reported higher birth weights among babies born to mothers with high vitamin C levels. This year a report in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that vitamin C in breast milk may reduce the risk of allergic dermatitis in predisposed infants. The current recommended daily intake for men is 90 mg and for women it is 75 mg. БDonБt waste your money on megadoses of vitamin C,Б says Higdon. A National Institutes of Health study showed that the body can only absorb a maximum of about 400 milligrams a day; more than that simply washes out of the system (the upper tolerable limit for vitamin C has been set at 2,000 milligrams per day). Follow the latest advice to eat between five and nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day and chances are youБll get all you needБespecially if you choose several foods high in C. Virtually everything in the produce section boasts some vitamin C. Excellent sources (per 1/2 cup serving) include: turnip greens, cooked = 20 mg sweet potato, baked with skin = 20 mg okra, cooked = 13 mg Related:

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