Can taking vitamin C supplements help you get through the winter months? Here's everything you need to know about vitamin C, and a few myth busting facts.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water soluble compound found in certain foods. Unlike most animals, humans don’t make vitamin C and it can't be stored in your body, so it’s essential to include it in your diet. A healthy adult should get 40mg of vitamin C everyday.
Why do you need it?
- Vitamin C is an essential ingredient in collagen, the substance that holds your whole body together
- It helps your body absorb iron
- Boosts your immune system
- Helps with wound healing
- Protects cells and helps to keep them healthy
Vitamin C deficiency is known as Scurvy, and famously affected sailors who were away from dry land for months at a time. Symptoms include tiredness and depression, rashes, internal bleeding, and slower healing of wounds. Scurvy is most famous for causing receding gums and tooth loss.
Top foods for vitamin C:
The best way to get the vitamin C you need is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C include:
- Chili peppers
- Red bell pepper
- Brussels Sprouts
Vitamin C research and the common cold:
Scientific studies have concentrated on whether taking 200mg of vitamin C per day would reduce how often you might get a cold, how long the cold would last, and how bad it would be. 60 years of clinical research shows that when taken after a cold starts, vitamin C supplements do not help in any way. When taken daily, vitamin C very slightly reduced the length of the cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
In practice this means that the 12 days a year the average adult suffers from a cold would be reduced to 11 days if you take vitamin C every day during that year. The average child suffers about 28 days of cold every year, and with daily vitamin C intake they would still suffer for 24 days.
Our Medical Director, Dr. Mob, says:
"Five servings of fruit and vegetables daily will ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals. You can start the day with a bowl of cereal, as most of these are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Try not to drink a lot of tea, coffee, or cola-based drinks as caffeine can prevent your body absorbing vitamins and minerals such as iron."
Vitamin C fact:
Narwhal skin is rich in vitamin C and is the primary source of vitamins for the Inuit people of the Arctic. As there are no other naturally occurring sources of vitamin C in that part of the world it is highly unlikely that humans would have survived in the Arctic at all if it were not for the Narwhal.