Here I present a multi-part look at one of the most well-known nutrients in the world: vitamin C. But do you know where it came from? Do you know (other than oranges) where to get it in food? Do you know what it does? Read on.
The year was 1753. The doctor was a British naval physician by the name of Lind, who found that there was something in citrus fruits that cured scurvy. Scurvy was a common disease among sailors when they were at sea due to the lack of fresh fruits and vegetables in the diet. Lind recommended that every sailor at sea should receive a daily ration of lime or lemon juice to overcome vitamin-C (ascorbic acid) deficiency. Fast forward to today, and you’ll find that vitamin C is the most popular vitamin supplement in the world.
Here are the various fruits, fruit juices, and vegetables that contain the highest levels of vitamin C.
— Strawberries (one cup): 95 milligrams
— Papaya (one cup): 85 mg
— Kiwi: 75 mg
— Orange: 70 mg
— Cantaloupe (1/4): 60 mg
— Honeydew melon (1/8): 40 mg
— Grapefruit (1/2): 40 mg
— Tangerine: 25 mg
— Orange (1/2 cup): 50 mg
— Apple (1/2 cup): 50 mg
— Grapefruit (1/2 cup): 35 mg
— Tomato (6 oz): 35 mg
— Broccoli (1/2 cup, cooked): 60 mg
— Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup, cooked): 50 mg
— Kale (one cup, cooked): 50 mg
— Red/green pepper (1/2 cup cooked): 50 mg
— Sweet potato (1 cup): 50 mg
Adults need at least 90 mg a day (men) and 75 mg a day (women). Based on large population studies, a daily intake of 100 mg of vitamin C is associated with reduced risk of death from heart diseases, stroke, and cancer. It has been shown that the following factors can cause a fall in vitamin C blood levels: stress; smoking, alcohol, fever, and viral infection. Smoking causes an increased metabolism of vitamin C. Therefore; the daily intake for smoker is 140 mg.
Vitamin C is required for many bodily functions including the following:
— Helps make collagen, an important part of blood vessels, tendons, bone and ligaments
— Helps make brain chemicals, such as norepinephrine, which is critical for many brain functions (especially mood)
— Helps make carnitine, a chemical essential for transporting fat to every cell’s mitochondria
— Important in controlling blood cholesterol and gallstone formation
— Important antioxidant that protects proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and genetic materials (DNA, RNA) from damage by free radicals and oxidative damage
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