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Fruits, Vegetables are Primary Source of Vitamin C


11.05.2012

Source: UT San Diego
By: Halle Ebling (Palomar Health dietician/educator)
Posted: Monday, November 5, 2012

With the cold season approaching, vitamin C will again be talked about as a remedy in many households.

People will reach for their bottle of vitamin C supplements or drink lots of vitamin C-laden fruit juice at the first cough or other sign of a cold.

Yet, despite the widespread use of vitamin C to help fight the common cold, there is no scientific evidence to support that vitamin C can prevent or cure a cold.

That’s not to say vitamin C or ascorbic acid lacks importance. Vitamin C helps keep you strong and healthy. It is fortunate that it is found naturally in many vegetables and fruits because the body does not make vitamin C on its own nor does the body store it. Because it is a water-soluble vitamin, it dissolves in water and leftover amounts leave the body through urine.

Vitamin C helps in the repair and maintenance of cartilage, bones and teeth. It helps heal wounds, form scar tissue and absorb iron. It is also an antioxidant that helps fight disease. It’s important to balance your meals with this essential vitamin regardless of the season.

Some good food sources of vitamin C:

  • Fruits, including citrus fruits, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, pineapple, papaya, lemons, kiwi, cantaloupe, mangoes, Clementine’s, guava, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, watermelon and tangerines.
     
  • Vegetables, including bell peppers (all colors), broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, spinach, kidney beans, cauliflower, cabbage (all varieties), sweet and white potatoes, mustard greens, tomatoes, okra, winter and summer squash.
     
  • Certain prepared foods, beverages and cereals contain vitamin C. Check food labels for vitamin C amounts.

Remember vitamin C content in foods can be reduced by exposure to extreme cold, heat, light, lengthy storage and water. Consider microwaving or steaming vegetables if possible or go natural. The best food sources of vitamin C are uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) sets a serving size for fruit or vegetables to about one-half cup. An orange or an apple the size of a tennis ball counts as one serving.

Many nutrition experts suggest individuals eat from five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

  • Older or inactive women and smaller children need at least three servings of vegetables and two servings of fruit daily.
     
  • Growing children, teen girls, most men and active women should eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit every day.
     
  • Teen boys and active men should eat at least five servings of vegetables and four servings of fruit every day.

 

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