What does vitamin C do?
Strengthens connective tissue
Promotes iron absorption
Has an antioxidant effect by capturing free radicals that damage our cells.
How much vitamin C do I need?
As our body can’t produce vitamin C itself, we have to get it from food. A balanced diet easily covers the recommended amount of 100 mg per day. Fruit and vegetables in particular contain a lot of vitamin C. Important sources include citrus fruits, strawberries, various berries, kiwis and different types of cabbage. Just 60 g of bell peppers or 90 g of broccoli, for example, are enough to cover your daily dose.
Vitamin C is also contained in various supplements marketed for athletes. It improves the uptake of iron, for example, thus preventing an iron deficiency. However, studies don’t show any benefits from taking vitamin C through supplements rather than through your normal diet.
Breastfeeding mothers & smokers need more vitamin C
Mothers who breastfeed need on average 30 mg more vitamin C per day than usual. For smokers it’s even more: they need to take one and a half times the normal amount to achieve the same blood values.
How much vitamin C gets lost in cooking?
Like many other water-soluble vitamins, L-ascorbic acid is affected by heat, oxygen, water and light. The loss of vitamin C resulting from heating depends on the fruit or vegetable – but an average loss of 50% can be expected. To make the most of their vitamin C, these foods are best eaten as fresh and unprocessed as possible.
What happens in the case of deficiency?
A deficient intake of vitamin C that lasts over several months can lead to the disease called scurvy. In the Age of Exploration, this disease was one of the main causes of death among sailors. The monotonous diet on their long sea voyages led to symptoms such as bleeding gums, skin problems, muscle atrophy and increased susceptibility to infections. It wasn’t until the end of the 18th century that a solution to scurvy was found in the form of citrus fruits, sauerkraut and potatoes. Thanks to modern balanced diets, the disease no longer occurs today.