The Importance of Vitamin C

I’m currently going through a phase of writing blogs about nutrients. This is because they’re so relevant at the moment. I’ve chosen vitamin C for its role in immune health, stress and in supporting seasonal allergies. It’s probably a bit late for a post on seasonal allergies now -I will aim to post about that next February/March so there’s time to take action before the season hits. However, it will still be helpful to increase vitamin C now. Vitamin C is not synthesised by the body and therefore it’s essential to the diet. Furthermore, it gets ‘used up’ by stress, anxiety and illness. Vitamin C is used by the adrenal glands during times of stress so it’s important to include plenty of vitamin C-rich foods at this time. Unfortunately, when we are stressed, we are more likely to reach for a sugary treat than an orange! And the sugar competes with vitamin C, affecting its status in the body.

Roles in the body

Vitamin C has numerous roles in the body. The most noteworthy is that of a major antioxidant. Vitamin C helps to fight free radicals, oxidative stress and inflammation; therefore it plays a role in reducing and preventing disease including viruses such as covid. Vitamin C has been shown in research studies to reduce symptoms of seasonal allergies such as runny nose, itchiness, sneezing and congestion. This may be partly due to vitamin C reducing histamine production in the body. Vitamin C is also involved in nerve function, gene expression and immune function through the stimulation of white blood cells. Vitamin C helps stimulate collagen for healthy plump skin and strong bones and joints.

Foods sources of vitamin C

Because humans cannot make vitamin C, it is required from the diet. As a water-soluble nutrient, it is not stored in the body so daily intake is required. Food sources of vitamin C include citrus fruit such as oranges and grapefruit, kiwi fruit, strawberries, red peppers, broccoli, sprouts, potatoes, and tomatoes. It is also useful to be mindful of sugar intake -though I would never say don’t eat sugar- only to enjoy treats in moderation.

Supplementing with vitamin C

Supplementing with vitamin C is safe for most people. The recommended daily allowance for vitamin C for UK adults is 40mg but this is considered by many as too low. The safe upper limit for adults is currently 2000mg. Some people may experience upset tummies with high doses. This may depend on the form of vitamin C. Some forms such as mineral ascorbates or liposomal vitamin C are gentler on the digestive tract.