This essential nutrient is sometimes overlooked, maybe because it’s so well-known that we tend to take it for granted. But sub-acute vitamin C deficiency is much more common than most people think, even in North America. Interestingly, the structure of vitamin C is actually one of the most delicate among the many nutrients we require, so the best way to make sure you’re getting enough is to focus on eating raw foods, even if it’s just for your first meal of the day.
This vitamin is integral for heart health, controlling blood pressure, immune system function and for maintaining steady energy levels. Vitamin C is important to the production of collagen, which is the rigid protein responsible for giving your skin its firm and youthful appearance. It’s also involved in your absorption of iron from food sources, and acts as a co-factor for the formation of new red blood cells.
Another role it plays in our bodies is in the health of our hormone producing adrenal glands. They’re responsible for forming our major stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. And if vitamin C is depleted in the body, we’re missing one of the raw materials to synthesize these hormones. With more sources of stress and worry in our lives than ever before, it’s important to keep your vitamin C intake in mind. Also remember that any excess of this vitamin can be easily excreted, because it’s actually a water-soluble nutrient.
One of the easiest ways to increase your intake is to start adding more ripe, unprocessed fruits and leafy greens into your diet. Green smoothies are a delicious and quick breakfast or lunch that you can use to pack in nutrient dense fruits, greens and plenty of water. If your access to fresh fruit is limited due to where you live, another option is to always have frozen fruit on hand to combine with ripe, spotty bananas. The frozen fruit will actually give your smoothies a wonderful, creamy texture and will make them last longer if you need to bring it with you to work, school or in the car.
If you feel like this might present a challenge for your lifestyle or schedule, there’s some great whole food supplemental sources of vitamin C for you to consider. You can find powdered camu camu berries or acerola cherry juice extract in most health food stores, which can be added to your water throughout the day. These food sources are going to be more effective and beneficial for boosting your intake, as they contain natural bioflavanoids that are important to the many functions of this nutrient.
If you eat a varied diet rich in raw fruits and vegetables, it becomes a lot easier to get enough of this vitamin. Here’s a quick list of the best food sources which we should all aim to include a few of each day:
Sources of Vitamin C in Fruits and Veggies
1. Acerola Cherry
2. Camu Camu Berry
3. Red, Orange and Yellow Bell Pepper
4. Tropical Fruits: Mango, Papaya, Pineapple and Guava
5. Melons: Honeydew and Cantaloupe
6. Leafy Greens: Swiss chard, Spinach, Watercress and Kale
7. Berries: Blueberry, Strawberry and Raspberry
8. Citrus: Grapefruit, Orange, Lemon and Lime