Lemons and oranges, broccoli and kale. We all know from a young age how important Vitamin C is for us, but do we know why? And in the current health crisis can it help boost our immune systems and offer some protection or additional benefits? Vitamin C – boosting your immunity.
Vitamin C, ascorbic acid, is water-soluble, which makes it easily absorbed by the body. There it acts as an antioxidant, which helps to protect cells from the damage free radicals can do to our systems. When our bodies convert food into energy compounds, called free radicals, are formed.
How else is Vitamin C involved in our immune systems? First, it encourages the production of white blood cells, designed to protect the body against infection; it helps strengthen the skin as a natural barrier; it can shorten wound healing time and low levels of Vitamin C have been found in patients with pneumonia and other underlying health conditions.
Another important function of Vitamin C is to improve the absorption of iron. Having good levels of iron ensures our bodies are making enough red blood cells, which transport oxygen throughout the body. People on a meat-free diet rely on plant-based iron, which can be poorly absorbed, so it is important for them to increase their intake of Vitamin C to assist absorption.
Excellent sources of Vitamin C are the following: red, green and yellow peppers, kale, broccoli, sweet potato, tomatoes, cauliflower, strawberries, cantaloupe melon, kiwi, papaya and orange juice. This is not an exhaustive list, but the most readily available items. However, if these are in short supply, frozen fruit and vegetables can often actually contain higher levels of Vitamin C as they are often picked and dry frozen immediately, thus retaining vital nutrients.
One very easy way to stretch your supply of fruit is to make a fruit salad out of apples, oranges, bananas, grapefruit, strawberries, kiwi. Save a strawberry, a few pieces of orange and apple to add to baby kale leaves, chopped cabbage or cauliflower, mix in a spoonful of natural yoghurt and a squeeze of lemon for a delicious and Vitamin C-bursting homemade coleslaw.
Vitamin C supplements, particularly for children, ensure your body gets a steady supply and can become part of your daily routine.
Staying at home gives us the unexpected benefit of having the time to experiment with our food and encourage our families to try new flavours and textures. Dining in has become the new dining out experience!