Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. Did you know that your body cannot make vitamin C, so it must come from the foods you eat every day.
Now not amount of Vitamin C will keep you from catching a cold, but there is some evidence that high doses of vitamin C may decrease the length of cold symptoms by as much as one to one-and-a-half days for some people. However, some other studies did not find the same results, and actually found that there was a higher risk of side effects when high doses of vitamin C supplements were consumed. So it is important to check with your doctor or registered dietitian nutritionist before taking.
There are several sources of vitamin C that are abundant and extend past just consuming oranges or orange juice. There are actually many other fruits and vegetables that also supply this vital vitamin. Other sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwifruit, among others. You can either enjoy these foods raw or cooked, but it’s important to note that fruits and vegetables lose vitamin C when they are heated or if they are stored for long periods of time. To get the most nutrients, eat them as soon as possible after shopping. If you still want you vegetables cooked then consider steaming or microwaving them for short periods of time in order to limit the loss of nutrients.
Vegetarians may be especially interested to know that vitamin C helps the body to better absorb non-heme iron — the kind from plant foods such as beans, spinach and quinoa. To get this benefit, combine vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich plant foods in the same meal. For example, combine black beans and salsa or create a flavorful spinach salad with strawberries and mandarin oranges.