Are you getting enough vitamin C?

By Shayna Brouker • Published: October 25th, 2012
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Scurvy in the 21st century? Not quite, but researchers say most of us aren’t getting nearly enough vitamin C in our diets to ward off cancer, heart disease and stroke. Scientists in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition say that the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C should be increased from 75 milligrams for women and 90 for men to 200 for all adults. That would be in addition to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day.

Why the sudden sound off for vitamin C? Scientists think a higher level of C could actually ward off chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as the issues that lead to them, such as high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, poor immune response and atherosclerosis.

More C could saturate cells and tissues, pose no risk to health, and may in fact have substantial effects on public health … for the cost of about a penny a day. Besides making skin beautiful and reducing wrinkles, vitamin C could prevent prenatal health problems and eye disease, too.

A grade-A diet of the recommended five- to nine- daily servings of fruits and veggies could provide enough of this vital vitamin. But when you don’t get sufficient C — as is the case in up to one-fifth of some populations — you’ll feel sick, fatigued and lethargic. Smokers, older adults and college kids living off pizza and beer are especially at risk for deficiency.

Fruits like cantaloupe and kiwi and vegetables like broccoli, red cabbage and green and red peppers are chock-full of it. Just be sure to cook veggies in minimal water so you don’t lose the vitamins in the cooking water. You don’t have to worry about overdosing on vitamin C because excess is excreted from the body. Just don’t go over 2,000 milligrams to avoid stomach upset and diarrhea.

With loads of yummy fruits and veggies loaded with this vitamin, your quest for more C will be healthy and tasty, too.