Introducing Vitamin C

The Healing Nutrient

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Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is often referred to as the healing vitamin. Why? Well, it has a very important role in wound healing by aiding the synthesis of collagen which is required for the normal structure and function of connective tissues such as skin, cartilage and bones.

Vitamin C has other important qualities for the human body. It is an antioxidant, potentially protecting cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Additionally, vitamin C is involved in the normal structure and function of blood vessels and neurological function and assists in the defense against infections and inflammation. Lastly, vitamin C is often recommended for people who have iron deficiency or anemia as it aids the  absorption of non-haem iron (iron from plant sources) in the gut.

The Primary Sources of Vitamin C

Fruits (especially citrus fruits), cabbage-type vegetables, green leafy vegetables, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and liver (ox /calf).

Bioavailability of Vitamin C

Levels of vitamin C in foods depend on the growing conditions, season, stage of maturity, cooking practices, and storage time prior to consumption. Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat and oxygen. Absorption levels depend on the amounts consumed. About 70–90% of vitamin C is absorbed. If intakes exceed 1000 mg/day, absorption levels drop to 50%.

Risks Related to Inadequate Intake of Vitamin C

Individuals who do not consume sufficient quantities of fruits and vegetables are at risk for inadequate intakes of vitamin C. Because smoking generates free radicals, individuals who smoke have elevated requirements for vitamin C. Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy; signs of scurvy are bleeding gums, small hemorrhages below the skin, fatigue, loss of appetite and weight, and lowered resistance to infections.

Find more information on vitamins and micronutrient deficiencies though our partner, Vitamin Angels or download our complete vitamin and mineral guide here

Incorporate vitamin C into your next meal by trying the delicious recipe below…

Chickpea, Spinach and Tomato Curry*

Ingredients
1 onion chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3cm/1¼ in piece  ginger, grated
6 ripe  tomatoes
½ tbsp oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp turmeric
pinch chilli flakes
1 tsp yeast extract
4 tbsp red lentils
6 tbsp coconut cream
1 head of  broccoli broken into small florets
400g can chickpeas, drained
100g bag baby spinach leaves
1  lemon, halved
1 tbsp toasted sesame seed
1 tbsp chopped cashew to mix with the sesame seeds

Method

Put the onion, garlic, ginger and tomatoes in a food processor or blender and whizz to a purée.

Heat oil in a large pan. Add the spices, fry for a few secs and add purée and yeast extract. Bubble together for 2 mins, then add lentils and coconut cream. Cook until lentils are tender, then add the broccoli and cook for 4 mins. Stir in chickpeas and spinach, squeeze over lemon and swirl through sesame and cashew mixture. Serve with brown rice, if you like.

*Adapted from BBC Good Food.

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