Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is important to many functions in the body. For example, it is needed to grow and repair tissues throughout the body. Vitamin C is a popular remedy for the common cold, but research is mixed on whether it helps or prevents the sniffles.
Sources of vitamin C
Dietary sources of vitamin C include many fruits and vegetables. Sources with the most vitamin C are fresh, raw cantaloupes, citrus fruits, kiwis, mangos, papayas, pineapples, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, watermelon and cranberries. Red and green peppers, spinach, cabbage, cauliflower, turnip greens and other leafy greens, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, winter squash and Brussels sprouts are other good sources of vitamin C.
How vitamin C helps your body
Vitamin C is important in the formation of:
- Collagen, blood vessels, cartilage and muscle, and so it helps to maintains the integrity of many body tissues, including the skin.
- Neurotransmitters, the chemicals that are important for signaling in the nervous system.
- Carnitine, a chemical that supports the transport and breakdown of fatty acid to generate energy.
In addition, vitamin C is vital to the body’s maintenance of overall health, and is seen in high concentration in immune cells. This raises the possibility that vitamin C is an immune-boosting agent, although the mechanism isn’t clear.
The human body cannot form or produce vitamin C and so depends on outside sources. Plant sources, including tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and kiwi, are the best sources of vitamin C.
Vitamin C is also available as an oral supplement, but over-the-counter sources of vitamins have to be well-researched before taking them on a routine basis. If needed, enlist the help of your physician or pharmacist to choose the right supplement for you.