A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect against damaging free radicals and supports a healthy immune system. Additionally, vitamin C enhances iron absorption and is necessary for the body to manufacture collagen, which is essential for healthy skin.
What are the health benefits of vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, helping to protect our body’s cells, including immune cells, from damage by free radicals and reactive oxygen species.
These offenders can be generated during normal metabolism, as well as through exposure to toxins and pollutants, and are detrimental to overall health. In addition to its role as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to support a healthy immune system, and is required for collagen formation, synthesis of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, and helping to convert fat from food into cellular energy.
What are the recommended intakes for vitamin C?
Multiple factors, including age, gender, life stage and smoking status, affect the amount of vitamin C a person needs. Therefore, the Institute of Medicine’s Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies slightly between men and women of different life stages and conditions. It is recommended that men and women 19 years and older consume 90 mg and 75 mg per day, respectively.
That recommendation increases in men and women who smoke to 125 mg and 110 mg, respectively, due to the increased oxidative stress they experience. Recommendations for pregnant and breast feeding women are 85 mg per day and 120 mg per day, respectively, and are higher to address the increased needs of mother and baby.
What foods provide vitamin C?
Fruits, fruit juice and vegetables are rich sources of vitamin C. Oranges, orange juice, red bell peppers, strawberries and broccoli are just examples of foods that provide excellent amounts of vitamin C per serving. Unfortunately, nationally representative research data demonstrates that Americans are not meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake or vitamin C intake on average.