The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned that Americans aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals. On its website, it notes that vitamins and minerals “are critical for several important bodily functions,” but lists several obstacles that need overcoming. These include iron deficiency in 20 percent of pregnant women, vitamin and mineral deficiencies among Black and Hispanic women especially, and “more than half of children younger than 5 years old suffer(ing) from vitamin and mineral deficiencies.”
One known factor contributing to such deficiencies is that, with the exception of vitamin D, vitamins and minerals are not produced in one’s body, so the nutrients thereof must be obtained through food, drink or supplementation. Among the most sought after and important vitamins needed today is vitamin C.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient one’s body uses to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in the bones. It also acts as an antioxidant – helping to protect blood cells against disease, radiation from the sun and free radicals. Free radicals play a role in heart diseases and cancers. Vitamin C also aides one’s body in absorbing and storing iron – a mineral essential for growth and development. “Vitamin C has multiple important roles including maintaining strong tissues and immunity,” says Walter Willett, MD, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health.multivitamin. In fact, research shows that taking a vitamin C supplement each day increases one’s blood antioxidant levels by up to 30%, which can help the body fight inflammation. Vitamin C supplementation has also been shown to help manage high blood pressure, boost immunity, prevent iron deficiency and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C for adults 19 and older is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. While pregnant and breastfeeding, women should increase that amount daily to 85 mg. Smokers should get an additional 35 mg beyond such recommendations.
And unlike over supplementation concerns that exist with other vitamins and minerals, “vitamin C is relatively safe” says Willet. “Because vitamin C is water-soluble, taking too much of it and experiencing symptoms of toxicity as a result is very rare,” adds Naidoo. In such rare circumstances, symptoms of too much vitamin C may include diarrhea, nausea or kidney stones.
Beyond supplementation, vitamin C is found abundantly in citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, parsley, kale and spinach. Brussels sprouts and broccoli are considered two of the best natural sources of vitamin C. Brussel sprouts have nearly 75 milligrams of vitamin C alone, and just one cup of broccoli contains a whopping 80 milligrams of the nutrient.
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