Learn About Your Vitamins And Minerals: Vitamin C And Zinc
Inspired by the Sight and Life publication Vitamins and Minerals: A Brief Guide, we continue with our Learn About Your Vitamins and Minerals series by discussing vitamin C and zinc.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in many physiological processes. As an antioxidant, vitamin C protects cells of the body from damaging effects of free radicals and helps build healthy immune systems. Vitamin C stimulates the activity of white blood cells which support our defenses against infections, such as a common cold. Vitamin C also plays a role in improving the absorption of non-heme iron in the gut, and regulating cellular iron uptake and metabolism.
Many animals synthesize their own vitamin C, however, humans cannot do that because we lack the enzyme gluconolactone oxidase which is involved in vitamin C synthesis. Therefore we need vitamin C in our diets. The primary natural plant sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits , tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables . Other sources include dairy products, kidney and the liver of those animals who are able to produce their own vitamin C.
Deficiency can be prevented by adequate consumption of foods rich in vitamin C, or through supplements.
Zinc deficiency can be prevented by adequate consumption of foods rich in zinc. Fortifying staple foods and processed foods with zinc, as well as taking supplements also helps to prevent deficiency.
Vitamin C Can Help Improve Heart Health
According to the NIH, there is some evidence that vitamin C can help keep cardiovascular disease at bay. One of the largest studies, involving over 85,000 women, found that intake of vitamin c in both dietary and supplemental form reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. Others have found it can reduce the risk of stroke.
Too Much Vitamin C: Signs And Symptoms
Taking too much vitamin C can lead to minor symptoms, but because its a water-soluble vitamin, the symptoms are uncommon. Signs and symptoms that youve taken too much vitamin C can include:
- Redness of the face
Most of these symptoms are easily recognized in adults. If children have too much vitamin C, it will usually show up as a skin rash anywhere on the body.
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Leading Causes Of Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies
The most common cause of vitamin and mineral deficiencies is not eating the right foods to encourage nutrient intake. Finding foods which are sources of essential nutrients is the most straightforward way to encourage intake and prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency. However, this isnt always so simple.
People with dietary restrictions and allergies may struggle to find enough sources of the individual vitamins and minerals to intake sufficient amounts. Vegans may wish to take vegan supplements and vegetarians, vegetarian supplements, in order to encourage a balanced intake of vitamins and minerals.
Malabsorption, an issue wherein the intestine does not absorb nutrients properly or effectively, can cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Malabsorption can be caused by gastrointestinal health problems such as Crohns, IBS, and celiac disease. This means that even if someone is eating the right foods, their body struggles to absorb these nutrients, and they could develop a deficiency and the health problems it comes with.
/7the Right Way To Take Vitamin C
Studies suggest that our body’s capacity to absorb Vitamin C decreases by 50 per cent when we take more than 1000 mg of this vitamin in a day. All the extra amount of the vitamin is moved out of the body through urine.
It is best to take Vitamin C in the raw form as heat and light can destroy the amount of vitamin in the particular food. Cooking Vitamin C rich food for a long time at a high temperature can break down the vitamin. Apart from that, cooking in water can also make the vitamin seep into the liquid and when the liquid is not consumed you may not get the vitamin. Stir-frying or blanching are the best ways to preserve the vitamin. Also, try to eat fruits that are ripe as they contain the maximum amount of Vitamin C.
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What Health Benefits Do Orange And Yellow Fruits And Vegetables Have
- They protect your eyes.
- Your body converts carotenoids to vitamin A, which has powerful effects on your eyes. Vitamin A protects the surface of your eyes, helps to stop inflammation in your eyes, and might even help with vision loss from macular degeneration.
- They help your immune system.
- Citrus fruits and cantaloupe are a great source of vitamin C, which boosts your immune system and helps it fight off infections.
- They help fight cancer.
- Carotenoids, particularly alpha-carotene, have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer.
- Folate helps protect and repair your DNA, which helps your body avoid the cell mutations that can lead to cancer.
Orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are plentiful and easy to add into many different recipes. If youd like to see the benefits for yourself, here are some delicious ways to get started.
How To Get Enough Vitamin C
“Typically, I recommend eating a variety of fruits and vegetables for those seeking to boost their vitamin C content,” dietician Jenn Randazzo tells CNET. Vitamin C is found in many foods including:
- Citrus fruits and their juices
- Red and green peppers
- Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C
“Because vitamin C content may be reduced by prolonged storage and cooking techniques, try to consume vitamin C foods either raw or steamed for a short period of time,” Randazzo adds. Another way to ensure you get enough vitamin C is to add a supplement. This can be helpful during times when you want to prevent illness, boost your immune system or get extra vitamin C support if you’re sick.
“If you’re worried about getting enough vitamin C into your daily diet, it is available as dietary supplements as well ,” Randazzo says. “However, some supplements have other forms, like sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, and other mineral ascorbates too. Research has not shown that any form of vitamin C is better than the others, so it’s important that you use the form easiest to incorporate into your personal wellness routine.”
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May Lower Your Risk Of Heart Disease
Coronary illness is the primary Source of death around the world .
Many elements increment the danger of coronary illness, including hypertension, high fatty oil or LDL cholesterol levels, and low degrees of HDL cholesterol.
Nutrient C might assist with decreasing these danger factors, which might diminish coronary illness hazards.
For instance, an examination of 9 investigations with a joined 293,172 members tracked down that following ten years, individuals who took something like 700 mg of nutrient C day by day had a 25% lower hazard of coronary illness than the people who didn’t take a nutrient C enhancement .
Curiously, one more examination of 15 investigations discovered that devouring nutrient C from food varieties not supplements was connected to a lower hazard of coronary illness.
Nonetheless, researchers were uncertain whether individuals who devoured nutrient C-rich food sources followed a better way of life than individuals who took an enhancement. In this way, it stays muddled whether the distinctions were because of nutrient C or different parts of their eating routine .
One more investigation of 13 examinations checked out the impacts of taking somewhere around 500 mg of nutrient C day by day on coronary illness hazard factors such as blood cholesterol and fatty oil levels.
The investigation discovered that taking a nutrient C enhancement altogether diminished LDL cholesterol by roughly 7.9 mg/dL and blood fatty substances by 20.1 mg/dL .
Helps Maintain Bones And Cartilage
Vitamin C plays a big part in keeping our cartilage and bones strong by helping our bodies to make collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and acts as a scaffold to provide structure and strength.
About 90% of the matrix proteins in our bones are collagen, so it makes sense that it is good for our bones and cartilage.
Some research suggests that higher vitamin C intake appears to be associated with higher bone mass density and lower bone loss. Very high vitamin C levels have also been seen to help protect against hip and other bone fractures.6
Another micronutrient needed for strong and healthy bones is calcium, so try this calcium and vitamin C recipe for a double whammy of bone support.
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Vitamin C Stimulates The Production Of White Blood Cells
“Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C helps to stimulate the production and function of many types of white blood cells and also protects certain white blood cells,” said Dr. David Greuner of NYC Surgical Associates. White blood cells help fight off illness-causing viruses and bacteria, he explained.
May Boost Your Immune System
When most people think of vitamin C, they think of their immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help strengthen your bodys immune function.
Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals that can damage your cells. Free radicals are a natural byproduct of the metabolic process, but when they build up to dangerous levels, they can cause oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been associated with several chronic diseases.
Consuming more vitamin C can help increase your blood antioxidant levels, which can keep inflammation at bay.
Vitamin C also helps increase the production of white blood cells that protect against infection. Along with increasing white blood cell production, this essential vitamin can also strengthen your skins barrier to speed up wound healing.
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Normal Nervous System Function
Our nervous system is a complex network of cells and neurons from the brain and spinal cord to various body parts.
Vitamin C can be found inside the neurons in our central nervous system. In fact, these neurons contain some of the richest concentrations in human body tissues.20
A recent review of 50 studies on vitamin C and cognitive function found a significant relationship between the two.
The studies showed that those who had good cognitive health had higher blood concentrations of vitamin C than those who were cognitively impaired.21
Vitamin C And Immune Health
Vitamin C plays an important role in immune health and helps your body’s immune system in a few different ways. First, it supports the production of immune cells or white blood cells that you need to fight infections. Secondly, vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, which protects you from oxidative stress, which is linked to chronic health conditions and illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s.
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How Much Vitamin C Do I Need
Now weve covered the function of vitamin c in our bodies and all its wonderful benefit health, lets find out how much you need to stay healthy.
If you consume a healthy balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruit and veg, you will probably be getting enough vitamin C.
However, our bodies cannot make or store vitamin C. Of you dont hit your 5-a-day target as much as youd like, you may need to reconsider your diet or start taking a supplement.
Try tracking your food for a few days to see if youre hitting the recommended vitamin C targets below:
Protects Your Memory And Thinking As You Age
Dementia is a broad term used to depict the side effects of helpless reasoning and memory.
It influences more than 35 million individuals worldwide and typically happens among more seasoned grown-ups .
Studies recommend that oxidative pressure and irritation close to the cerebrum, spine, and nerves can expand the danger of dementia .
Nutrient C is a solid cell reinforcement. Low levels of this nutrient have been connected to a disabled capacity to think and recollect .
Besides, a few investigations have shown that individuals with dementia might have lower blood levels of nutrient C .
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/7the Right Way To Take Zinc
To ensure maximum absorption of zinc from diet add different varieties of food like meat, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate and others. Our body readily absorbs the nutrient from animal sources of foods as compared to plant sources. Also, take zinc in a smaller dose to absorb it more efficiently. Pairing zinc-rich food with protein also increases the chances of absorption.
Do You Need Supplements
Health experts recommend that you consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables to meet your daily requirement of vitamin C. However, if you cannot do so, supplements may be required. You could also opt for a multivitamin supplement because it is possible that your body may not have adequate quantities of several nutrients.
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Heart Disease And Cancer
Vitamin C is often erroneously lauded for its ability to fight heart disease and cancer. Much of the misperception has been fueled by vitamin C’s antioxidant properties.
While antioxidants seem to reduce the oxidative stress associated with these diseases, there is little to no evidence that vitamin C supplements can directly influence the risk.
Among the clinical findings:
- A 10-year study involving 14,641 men over the age of 50 showed that a 500-mg dose of vitamin C did nothing to alter the rate of heart attacks or stroke compared to a placebo.
- A nine-year study involving 8,171 older women demonstrated that 500 milligrams of vitamin C have no impact on the rate of cancer compared to the general population.
- A 5-year study involving 77,721 older men and women also showed no association between vitamin C intake and the risk of lung cancer.
What Does Vitamin C Do
Vitamin C helps to repair and regenerate tissues, protect against heart disease, aid in the absorption of iron, prevent scurvy, and decrease total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Research indicates that vitamin C may help protect against a variety of cancers by combating free radicals, and helping neutralize the effects of nitrites . Supplemental vitamin C may also lessen the duration and symptoms of a common cold, help delay or prevent cataracts, and support healthy immune function.
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Vitamin C May Bolster Cancer Treatment
The Mayo Clinic notes that eating a diet filled with vitamin Crich fruits and veggies appears to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, but research isnt clear about whether thats directly related to the vitamin C content or the result of following a healthy diet more generally. Overall, the research regarding vitamin Cs role in cancer prevention is inconclusive. A meta-analysis published in November 2015 in the Korean Journal of Family Medicine, for instance, determined theres no link between vitamin C supplements and cancer prevention.
But it seems vitamin C may make radiation and chemotherapy more effective when taken intravenously in extra-high doses, according to the Mayo Clinic. A February 2019 study published in Anticancer Research found high doses of vitamin C helped fight breast cancer cells when combined with anti-cancer drugs. One big caveat: The study participants were receiving extremely high doses of vitamin C that people shouldnt expect to get through diet and supplements at home. I recommend speaking with an oncologist about their experience with patient outcomes, Samuels advises for those interested in the possible benefits. Typically, outcomes depend on the individual’s type of cancer, severity of cancer, and overall health status.
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Do I Need A Vitamin C Supplement
As a general rule, it is always best to get your nutrients from food rather than pills. With that being said, taking a daily vitamin C supplement won’t cause you any harm and can bolster your RDA if you happen to fall short.
If you don’t think you’re getting enough vitamin C in your diet, don’t hesitate to supplement at the recommended dosages. At the same time, increase your intake of the following foods rich in vitamin C:
- Red pepper : 95 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Orange juice: 90 milligrams per 3/4-cup serving
- Orange: 70 milligrams per one medium fruit
- Kiwi: 64 milligrams per one medium fruit
- Green pepper : 60 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Broccoli : 51 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Strawberries : 49 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Brussel sprouts : 48 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Tomato juice: 33 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
- Cantaloupe: 29 milligrams per 1/2-cup serving
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Facts About Vitamin C
Lots of animals can produce their own vitamin C, except humans, other primates and guinea pigs!
Vitamin C was first discovered in 1747 when James Lind trialed 6 different treatments for sailors suffering with scurvy. Only oranges and lemons were found to be effective.10
Taking vitamin C doesnt appear to prevent colds and flu but taking vitamin C before the illness sets in could help reduce the duration.
/7the Recommended Daily Intake Of Vitamin C
The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin C for men above 19 years is 90 mg and for women is 75 mg daily. During pregnancy and breastfeeding the daily need increases to 85 mg and 120 mg respectively. Smokers are advised to take an extra 35 mg of this vitamin as smoking can deplete vitamin C levels in the body.
Taking more than 2000 mg of Vitamin C in a day can lead to gastrointestinal distress and diarrhoea. When this water-soluble vitamin is present in the body in excess, it switches roles and acts as a tissue-damaging pro-oxidant instead of an antioxidant. This can even increase the risk of kidney stones.
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