Q. Do you recommend taking a Vitamin C supplement during cold and flu season?
A. Found in more foods than just citrus!
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. Its main role in our bodies is to maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels and skin. During the winter months it is not uncommon for people to supplement with large doses of Vitamin C because they’ve heard it helps prevent catching the common cold. The truth to the matter is, there is no evidence that consuming large amounts of vitamin C (200 mg or greater) reduced the frequency of the common cold. However, there was a tendency for Vitamin C to reduce the severity and duration of colds. I always encourage my clients to get their nutrients from whole food rather than pill form. The RDI for Vitamin C is 75 mg for females and 90 mg for males and these RDI’s can easily be meet simply by consuming fruits and vegetables. We all know oranges are an excellent source of Vitamin C, providing 95 mg in just one orange, but did you know about these excellent sources? Broccoli, 101 mg/cup, Strawberries, 10 mg/berry, Bell Pepper 117 mg/cup, Cauliflower, 55/cup, and Sweet Potato, 39mg/cup, to name a few. Most fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin C are also excellent sources of phytonutrients, which have the added health benefit of preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer, something you miss out on when swallowing a pill. Bottom line, epidemiological evidence suggests that adequate Vitamin C from foods is linked to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, so if you’re interested in increasing your Vitamin C intake, head to the produce department at your local grocer instead of the supplement isle.