WITH winter on its way, now is the time to arm your body in the annual fight against colds and other lurgies.
Vitamin C plays a crucial role in our bodies. It's the age-old weapon in the fight against winter bugs, but it also has a number of other benefits.
It helps regulate our immune system, helps increase wound healing, burns and ulcers due to improved collagen production, as well as preventing and treating common colds and viral infections, gum disease - and can even provide relief for hayfever.
Healthy Life nutritionist Carmen Alvarado says vitamin C, along with zinc, is also great for helping the body absorb iron from leafy greens and legumes and may improve the energy levels of anyone suffering from adrenal fatigue and exhaustion.
"As the human body cannot produce its own vitamin C, the only way to get it is from our diet," Ms Alvarado said.
"Vitamin C is highest in raw foods, but excess heat and high temperatures can destroy vitamin C completely, which might be why Australian doctors have found scurvy resurfacing due to poor modern dietary habits from reduced fruit and vegetable intake, and over-heating foods.
"The International Journal of Scientific Technology conducted a study on how cooking affects the vitamin C content of food and found that between 9 and 62 per cent of vitamin C content is lost when cooking food for between five to 30 minutes. About 60 per cent of vitamin C is lost from pumpkin and spinach after being cooked for half an hour."
Ms Alvarado said it is important to ensure you are getting enough every single day.
How much Vitamin C?
According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, adults should eat an average of five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit daily, and consume 45-85mg of vitamin C daily. With most of us juggling busy lives, this doesn't always happen but if you eat any of the following, you'll hit the daily average daily intake of vitamin C:
- 1 orange (93mg vitamin C)
- 1 medium kiwi fruit (64mg)
- 1⁄2 cup cooked broccoli (51mg)
- 1⁄2 medium grapefruit (39mg)
- 1⁄2 cup strawberries (49mg)
- 1 cup raw capsicum (120mg)
For those days when it's a struggle to eat enough fresh fruit and veggies, vitamin C-packed "superfood" powdered supplements can make it easier to reach the daily requirement. These include Amazonian plants such as the powdered leaves and fruit from the camucamu bush and dried acai (pronounced aah-sigh-ee) berries as well as the blue-green algae spirulina. Always check with your GP or health professional before taking any dietary supplements.