Don’t we all remember this one thing, if not everything from our junior school science That the deficiency of Vitamin C can cause Scurvy, which is a disease of bleeding gums; and that it mostly occurred to sailors who were deficient due to the lack of availability of fresh food. Well, many of us are aware that citrus fruits are naturally Vitamin C rich foods, which have an impressive number of health benefits we probably never delved into.
Very vaguely, we humans cannot make our own Vitamin C, while most of the other animals can. Guinea pigs were another species that were found to be naturally incapable of producing their own vitamin C. This actually led to the first discovery of Ascorbic Acid.
As per the case study of sailors developing Scurvy, which was one of the classic discoveries connected to this vitamin, it was mainly due to their exclusive dependence on CANNED food. So, no fresh food meant absolutely no Vitamin C for them!
Vitamin C is a natural antioxidant. It also helps the body produce collagen that is useful when it comes to repairing damaged cells and tissues, and is instrumental in the healing process concerned with wounds and lesions. At the same time, to a certain extent, this also helps us reduce (not eliminate though) the toxic effects of air pollution and excessive sun exposure on us through the skin.
Collagen production is pretty much associated with healing and the prevention of skin degradation due to ageing. Well, that’s what the popular yet infamous technique of BOTOX is known to do. Activating extra collagen into the skin dramatically delays ageing. So if you’re someone who is sure of getting sufficient Vitamin C from your regular diet including seasonal veggies and fruits, you can very much congratulate yourself for being able to age gracefully on the outside.
Ascorbic acid catalyses the absorption rate of non-heme Iron (plant-based) from the food we eat, which largely consists of the regularly cooked and uncooked vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Although Vitamin C is prominently hailed as the quick fix remedy or prevention of cold and cough, in terms of boosting immunity, it has been observed through studies that Vitamin C reduced the duration of cold and cough by 8%. This is still a viable conclusion as the frequent sufferers of cold and cough, especially through Sinusitis will tell you what every moment with it means for them.
I personally can vouch for this fact as along with Yoga and breathing exercises, I upped my intake of juicy fruits and vegetables like Indian gooseberries (Amla), oranges, tomatoes as salads, homemade lime condiments, bell peppers, seasonal jack fruit and papaya. And gradually, I noticed that I experienced lesser to no more sinus attacks owing to bad weather.
Pulpy and citrus fruits and veggies like Papaya, Orange, Strawberries, Kiwi, Mango guava, grapefruit, broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum etc can sufficiently provide us recommended daily dietary amount of Vitamin C. No matter how indispensably essential the vitamin is for us, there’s always a limit most of our dietary requirements are capped with.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) for men and women aged above 19 is 90 mg and 75 mg, respectively. Surprisingly, our body is designed to excrete any excess amount of Vitamin C through urine. You wonder how an ‘excess’ would be created?
As per experts, the amount of Vitamin C in the food keeps reducing as it gets cooked. This implies that the above mentioned examples of Vitamin rich foods can very well give you the amount of Vitamin C that can possibly even exceed the RDA, specially in the raw form. For instance, on a typical day if you have raw or roasted capsicum for salad or a cooked bowl of capsicum sabzi, it gives you the quantity of Vitamin C close to 100 g of Vitamin C. That certainly is higher than the RDA for both men and women. Top it up with a snack session including some orange or kiwi or pineapple. You’re obviously exceeding the RDA! But in normal conditions, your body wouldn’t let that happen. So, you excrete all that extra Vitamin C through your urine; whatever your body could not handle for absorption. This clearly means that if you’re not a person who entirely survives on canned food, packaged dry food and instant noodles or pasta, you have quite remote chances of developing a deficiency of the vitamin. Because, almost every vegetable or fruit that is integrally a part of our diet (either in raw or cooked form) gives us the required dose of Vitamin C.
If, somehow, you’re actually deficient on Vitamin C rich foods, you would have a weak healing system, dry skin, possibly bleeding gums, and frequent muscle and joint pain regardless of age. However, Vitamin C deficiency is really rare except for a couple of medical conditions, which may require you to be prescribed with a long-term supplementation of the vitamin by a doctor.
One such example has been that of a woman in her late 30’s with an obsessive- compulsive eating disorder who developed scurvy. This case was reported in 2006 in the Singapore Medical Journal.
“It’s better to get vitamin C from food, because you also get other important nutrients. Eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for general health, and you’ll get enough vitamin C,” advises Dr. Bruce Bistrian, the chief clinical nutritionist at the Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Practically, we deduce that our body expels the excess amount of Vitamin C that we derive from food. However, if there’s any goof-up or overdose with its supplements, one could develop:
If you aren’t a doctor, do NOT ever ‘assume’ without a blood test that you may be Vitamin C deficient & resort to purchasing its supplements. Hence, it is always advised to NOT fall for any blown-up myths related to the nutrient and if prescribed with supplements by a credible medical practitioner, do assess the quality of the manufacturer and its claims.