Sunday, 29 November 2015

NUTRITION < IT'S ALL ABOUT THAT VITAMIN C, BABY!


The scientific name for vitamin C is Ascorbic acid. I like to know the scientific name for all the vitamins and minerals because, a lot of the time this is how there will be listed on the back of beauty products and sometimes they can sound a lot scarier than they are so I becoming more and more fluent in the lingo of label. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C - I hope you haven't forgotten that already ha!) is a water-soluble vitamin, this means it needs regular replacement in the body (as opposed to fat-soluble vitamins which are stored in the liver and fatty tissues thus eliminating much more slowly). This means you should be aiming to get a decent dose of vitamin C on a daily basis as it cannot be stored in your body. The RDA (recommended daily allowance) is between 60-80mg. This blog post will explore what it can do for your health, where you can get it and how you can squeeze a little more into your diet.

PROVEN HEALTH CLAIMS:
* It contributes to the normal function of the immune system.
* It contributes to the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise. 
* It contributes to normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth. 
* It helps to maintain a normal energy-yielding metabolism.
* It aids the functioning of the nervous system. 
* It protects cells from oxidative stress. 
* It reduces fatigue and tiredness.
* It regenerates the reduced form of Vitamin E. 
* It increases iron absorption. 

THERE ARE ALSO CLAIMS THAT:
* It may help with colds, flu and infections - WHICH IT DOES - I can vouch for this. When I get a cold, I don't ever reach for the lemsip or the ibuprofen (lemsip is full of aspartame and ibuprofen is a chemical concoction made by man in a laboratory so no thank you). I go straight down the shops and grab myself a nice carton of orange juice with bits and not from concentrate and I drink myself through cup after cup of green tea with fresh lemon and ginger in it. Both the lemon and the orange juice provide me with a nice dose of vitamin C and the ginger works as a natural anti inflammatory like ibuprofen. 
* It helps with post exercise soreness.
* It helps with stress and related symptoms.
* It can help make your skin look fabulous.
* It is known to help anaemia (due to increases iron absorption). 
* It has been speculated that it prevents bruising.
* Amazingly it has also been linked to fending off hay fever and allergies. 

HOW DO I GET MY FIX?
The following foods are high in vitamin C: Bell peppers, leafy greens (kale), kiwifruit, mango, cauliflower, broccoli, berries, citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, peas and papaya. I bump up my vitamin C intake in many ways, I often start my day with a warm green tea with lemon in or a pint of water with lemon juice squeezed into it. Like I mentioned earlier I buy fresh orange juice at the first sign of a cold. I make a beautiful salsa using tomatoes (recipe to come), I add lots of fruit and vegetables to my smoothies (usually strawberries and spinach from the above list). I graze on fruit all day long, sometimes it is nice to have fruit in it's solid form for the dietary fiber. I make veggie stir fries often and add a nice dollop of tahini or harissa paste... whatever tickles my fancy. I also have lemon and water before I eat/ drink spinach (or spirulina) in order to boost my iron intake. 


HOW DOES IT WORK?
Vitamin C contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Several studies agree that taking vitamin C at the onset of a cold can lessen the symptoms and duration of the cold and as I said earlier - I can vouch for that. It is recommended to take 1000-2000mg daily at the first signs of a cold. It appears to work by elevating levels of interferon, while also raising the activity of key immune cell. Interferons are key proteins that respond to bacteria and viruses and trigger the immune response. 

Vitamin C contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress, in other words; it aids post-exercise soreness. This action is often referred to as being an 'antioxidant' - substances that help the body from the harmful effects of free radicals. It is thought to be the action of excess free radicals that is partly responsible for muscle pain and soreness associated with intense exercise. Smoking actually generates excess free radicals in the body which increases the demand for vitamin C. In general smokers have lower than average vitamin C levels, which could lead to minor deficiency symptoms such as fatigue, low immunity and poor skin health.

The old C vit helps with stress and related symptoms as it contributes to the normal function of the nervous system, it appears to help contribute to normalise levels of the stress hormone (cortisol), which makes it useful for anyone dealing with stressful situations, or prone to stress related ailments. Let me tell you as someone who worked in a Pharmacy, almost every single ailment can be triggered by stress.

Vitamin C contributes to the normal collagen formation for the normal function of blood vessels, bones, cartilage, gums, skin and teeth. Collagen is the connective body tissue found in the skin and joints. Studies have shown that vitamin C deficiency may slow down the recovery from joint related injuries such as sprains. Deficiency is also linked with weak capillaries, which can lead to easy bruising so raising your intake of the beautiful vitamin will prevent that. Collagen is also required for healthy gums and teeth and who doesn't want them self some of those?

Due to the fact vitamin C increases iron absorption it can also help you to prevent anaemia. Making it even more important, especially for menstruating women, vegetarians and vegans. 

I have also read in various places that vitamin C works well as an antihistamine. I have never tried it myself, but it makes sense. It is anecdotal reported to possess anti-histamine properties that may help reduce the symptoms of hay fever and other allergies. Histamine is a substance that is released by the immune system when it encounters harmful organisms. It creates an inflammatory response to help prevent the spread, but in hay fever and other allergies, this response is triggered by every day substances such as pollen and animal fur. An anti-histamine therefore helps lessen the severity of allergy symptoms. 

WHAT OTHER VITAMINS COMPLIMENT IT?
* Valerian and Vitamin C complex (especially for conditions relating stress).
* Ginseng and B complex.
* Zinc and Echinacea (for the immune system - echinacea is also wonderful for fighting off a cold).
* Nettle and Echinacea (for allergies).
* Copper
* Alpha-lipoic acid (for post-exercise soreness).
* Rutin (to prevent bruising).

CAN I OVERDO IT?
In short, no. It is a water-soluble vitamin so you tend to loose it through your sweat and urine. If someone is suffering from an iron-overload condition, it should be avoided and there are some studies that claim it can cause kidney stones if you have a history of those in your family.

I hope this post is useful to someone out there - oh heyyy! I personally like to be clued up about all my vitamins and minerals so I can consciously pull them into my diet. Also if you feel good about your diet and what you are putting into your body, not only will the nutrients feed your body and mind, but, feeling good about what you are doing will mean you'll release nice hormones such a dopamine. Happy hormones mean your body will only be in a state of relaxation and for long term mind, body and spiritual health - that is an absolute must.


Peace out potatoes!

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