Who hasn’t grabbed an orange or two the minute they felt cold symptoms creeping up on them? Though vitamin C is the immediate go-to antidote for most cold or flu symptoms, believe it or not, it does more than serve your immune system. This hardworking multitasker plays a pivotal role in a range of physiological needs such as:
Strengthening connective tissue
Activating the creation of essential chemicals in the brain
Supporting overall healing
Serving as a protective antioxidant
On top of all this vitamin C is also imperative in the health and beauty of our skin. The only downside is that our bodies can’t create it on their own, so it’s essential to add this vital nutrient to your diet.
If you’ve followed the most recent tide of beauty and skincare trends, you may have noticed the prevalence of vitamin C in a range of skincare products. Vitamin C is often touted by skincare brands as a fountain of youth and is one of the leading vitamins for hair and nails. There are plenty of vitamin C foods for skin but what about all of those supplements and serums on the market? Keep reading as we unveil vitamin C fact from fiction.
Vitamin C benefits
Even though vitamin C is the classic treatment for colds or the flu, findings are inconclusive as to its actual efficacy. In rather high doses, it has been proven to reduce the risk of the common cold and shorten illness time. But according to research, ingesting a high dose of vitamin C daily for a year will only result in gaining back one day worth of health. Meaning, if you’re usually sick for 12 days, taking vitamin C daily only saves you one sick day. But what are the other health benefits of vitamin C?
Other vitamin C benefits include:
Powerful antioxidant: Neutralizes free radicals and decreases inflammation
Wound repair: Helps white blood cells work more efficiently and shortens healing time
Strengthens bones: Aids in the formation of collagen, which is part of the bone structure
Decreases blood pressure: Expands the blood vessels which reduces pressure
Prevents heart disease: May reduce LDL (unhealthy cholesterol)
Inhibits anemia: Improves the absorption of dietary iron
Vitamin C skin benefits
We’ve covered the range of general benefits that vitamin C affords the body, but its specific role in skin health lies in its powerful antioxidant qualities, ability to fight free radical damage and how it facilitates collagen production. Collagen is essential for skin elasticity and in some cases smoothes the skin, reducing the appearance of wrinkles. A vitamin C deficiency can result in your skin becoming thinner and weaker, meaning more visible wrinkles, spots, and blemishes.
Generally, dietary vitamin C tends to be more effective than topical variants used in skin treatments or found in many creams and vitamin C serums — plus, the latter is also worth a pretty penny or two. The reason this is a bit hit-or-miss is that some forms of topical vitamin C aren’t absorbed well by our skin, while others do not even convert to the type that our skin uses. That’s why it’s crucial to consider how effective your product is.
When exploring skincare brands, look for vitamin C with added nutrients such as tyrosine and zinc, which have shown to increase the bioavailability of vitamin C, meaning it’s absorbed more readily into your skin. Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (MAP) is one of the most stable forms and absorbs as well as hydrates your skin. Bonus, it’s also a powerful antioxidant.
Be aware that UV light tends to lower vitamin C levels. Use vitamin C based skincare products after exposure to the sun as the vitamin C content will oxidize and become damaged when exposed to light. It’s worth storing your vitamin C products in a cool, dark place.
Regular use of high-quality vitamin C serum benefits
Antioxidant effect: Protects the skin from free radicals and oxidative stress
UV light protection: Decreases sun damage
Collagen synthesis: Vitamin C is a catalyst in the creation of collagen
Depigmenting: Helps decrease melanin (pigment or dark spot) formation
The old saying that ‘Beauty comes from the inside out’ is more than a romantic notion, but is biologically accurate. When you eat well, it shows. Adding certain foods to your regular diet will help you radiate health and well-being.
Think about adding vitamin C and other antioxidant-rich foods like berries, leafy greens, dark green vegetables and green or herbal tea to your daily diet. Heart-healthy fats will also lend your skin that fresh, dewy glow especially if you focus on omega-3 oils found in salmon, walnuts, flax, and vitamin E rife in avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
Foods with high vitamin C content
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for women is about 75 mg and 90 mg for men. The water-soluble properties of vitamin C mean that it’s readily eliminated by your body, so you need to ingest it regularly for it to be potent. Vitamin C is also sensitive to heat, light, and oxygen, making it susceptible damage and rendering it ineffective.
Unless you’re growing your own fresh produce or buying it seasonally from a local farmers market, the transportation time of fruit and vegetables can range from a few days to a few weeks. The longer time a piece of produce spends between harvest to table, the more nutrients are lost on the way. Find out where exactly your Vitamin C goes in that time.
During processing, such as canning and home cooking, water-soluble nutrients like vitamin C will leak into cooking fluids like water. If possible, aim to steam or microwave your vegetables or use the green water from boiling your broccoli for things like soups and stews. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can drink it and recoup all that good vitamin C lost in the cooking process.
Shop locally and limit cooking time, as well as choose the most potent and best vitamin c foods:
Citrus fruits: Orange, lime, lemon
Green leafy vegetables: Kale, spinach, chard
Bell peppers: Yellow has the most vitamin C, then comes red, lastly green
Other foods high in vitamin C: Kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, papaya, brussels sprouts
Vitamin C supplements
When it comes to supplements and powders, it’s important to exercise caution as it can be easy to have too much with a tell-tale sign of vitamin C overconsumption being diarrhea. High doses of vitamin C (greater than 2000 milligrams per day for adults) may also cause kidney stones and nausea.
Supplemental vitamin C comes in many forms. It’s as yet undetermined if natural forms of vitamin C is more bioavailable, but at 8fit we always recommend that when in doubt aim for natural and unprocessed options. Supplements that contain vitamin C in the form of ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid (or L-ascorbate) versions are preferred.
Meals high in vitamin C from the 8fit app
Our 8fit Pro app has a number of delicious vitamin C-rich meals you can cook up quickly at home. If you don’t have the app yet, sign up here and delve into over 700 8fit recipes personalized to meet your dietary needs and lifestyle demands. The following vitamin C packed meals will serve to support your immune system, enrich your skin, and protect your heart.
Warm & crunchy chickpeas
Spinach is a good source vitamin C and pairing it with another vitamin C-rich veggie, bell pepper, delivers double the goodness. Save yourself some vitamin loss via the cooking process and serve the spinach raw.
Soaked peanut butter oats with orange
These comforting oats will provide your immune system a big boost of vitamin C through the orange, while the peanuts will help the bioavailability due to its zinc content. An excellent breakfast option to keep the common cold away.
Sesame chicken with broccoli
Both broccoli and bell peppers are vitamin C treasure troves. Steam the vegetables so you can get the most out of them nutritionally and go for yellow bell peppers if you want to level-up your vitamin C.