Nature’s Antioxidant Vitamin C
By Dawn Thorpe Jarvis, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Garden of Life® Senior Director of Nutrition Science & Educational Content
Did you know that humans, unlike most animals, can’t make vitamin C within our bodies because we lack a particular enzyme?
It’s essential for us to obtain sufficient vitamin C from our diets, and since vitamin C is water soluble, the body doesn’t store it, plus it’s poorly absorbed and constantly excreted. This all means that we need to consume
Vitamin C is found in plants, but mostly in fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, lemons and grapefruit. Other rich sources include acerola cherries; amla berries; camu camu; rosehip; sea buckthorn; Indian gooseberry; red and green peppers; guava; kiwi fruit; pineapple; tomatoes; red berries; cantaloupe melon; kale and other leafy greens; and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Cooking significantly reduces vitamin C, so raw fruits and vegetables, or their juices, are the best ways to get vitamin C and its natural cofactors, such as bioflavonoids, which assist with proper absorption and utilization of vitamin C in the body.
Vitamin C is in every human cell of the human body, supports healthy energy production in the cell’s mit ochondria (the powerhouse), and is needed for growth and development. It is required by eight enzymes needed for the biosynthesis of collagen, carnitine and neurotransmitters. Collagen is a major component of connective tissues, and is essential for healthy, vibrant skin as well as being a major building block for tendons and ligaments, bones and healthy blood vessels.
Vitamin C was discovered centuries ago when sailors developed scurvy. Their symptoms included extreme fatigue, swollen bleeding inflamed gums, tooth loss, joint pain, fragile blood vessels, poor wound healing, depression and, eventually, death. Today, our focus should be less about preventing scurvy, which is very rare, and all about maintaining optimum levels of vitamin C in our blood so it can continually per form its important antioxidant functions in the body. Low levels of serum vitamin C may have serious health implications related to major degenerative diseases and the aging process.
In short, vitamin C is nature’s antioxidant. As an electron donor, it protects our cells and building blocks for DNA from free radical damage during normal metabolic pr ocesses and from toxins via environmental pollution. It can also regenerate other antioxidants, such as vitamin E, within the body. Positive antioxidant effects of vitamin C have been demonstrated in many studies. It stimulates white blood cell and interferon production, supports antibody response and secretion of appropriate hormones—all important to healthy immune function.†
The bottom line is that you need enough vitamin C daily, so take advantage of this powerful antioxidant from nature.
About Dawn Thorpe Jarvis, MS, RD, LDN
Senior Director of Nutrition Science & Educational Content
Dawn has been with Garden of Life since 2003. She has a BS in Clinical Dietetics from Leeds (UK) and became a Registered Dietitian in 1980. She worked as a Clinical Dietitian in several London Teaching Hospitals and then joined a specialized Clinical Nutrition company and for 8 years worked her way from sales rep, to regional sales manager to marketing manager. Dawn maintained a Private Nutrition Practice specializing in weight loss and sports nutrition.
This information is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It should not be used in place of an individual consultation or examination or replace the advice of your health care professional and should not be relied upon to determine diagnosis or course of treatment.