When Vasco da Gamma sailed the Cape of Good Hope and his crew due to the illness was decimated, he probably did not expect that the reason causing the illness was as prosaic as vitamin deficiency in the sailors’ diet, specifically lack of Vitamin C.
During long cruises the pantry was stocked with dried meat and cereals, but it lacked vegetables and fruit, which are the best source of vitamins. Sailors suffered from scurvy, which was caused by the lack of Vitamin C responsible for the synthesis of collagen. With today’s state of knowledge and access to food, the diet of the average person should be properly balanced. It should, because it is not always the case.
Vitamin C deficiency – is it possible in the 21st century?
It would seem that everyone knows, even pre-schoolers, about the importance of food in maintaining health. However, civilisation diseases – cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diseases resulting from obesity – collect such a large harvest that we may assume that the awareness of the relationship “valuable food = health” is not widespread in society.
Almost everyone knows that Vitamin C can be found in citruses (which contrary to appearances are not its richest source), however, diseases resulting from the deficit of this vitamin happen, and it is not a rare phenomenon.
People who are especially vulnerable to vitamin C deficiency:
- Ones who are dieting (particularly independently, without the supervision of dietician)
- With gastrointestinal problems
- Physical workers (one’s without balanced diet, suited to their lifestyle)
- After injuries, burns, hospitalisation
- Under constant stress
- Smokers, alcohol abusers
- Living in big cities (due to toxins and pollution)
- Pregnant women.
How to recognise a deficiency of Vitamin C?
Lack of Vitamin C in the organism is mostly manifested by the occurrence of the red thick lines under tongue, swelling and bleeding from the gums. In addition, we can observe the presence of the red pimples on shoulders. In extreme cases lack of Vitamin C can result in scurvy, but nowadays it is rather impossible. It is associated with long-term lack of Vitamin C administration (even 2-3 months).
Where to find the Vitamin C?
Probably most people will answer without thinking – in lemons, because this is the best source of Vitamin C! Well, not at all! Vaunted citruses are only in 8th place in terms of Ascorbic Acid content (50mg / 100g). For comparison, the largest possible source of Vitamin C, i.e. Wild Rose, contains as much as 2000-3500 mg in 100g. What else is worth eating to provide the body with adequate doses of Vitamin C?
- Acerola – 1400-2500 mg/100g
- Red pepper – 144mg/100g
- Brussels sprouts – 94mg/100g
- Blackcurrant – 180-400 mg/100g
- Kiwi – 59mg/100g
- Strawberry – 68 mg/100g
- Cabbage – 45mg/100g
Is eating a lot of Wild Rose and drinking Acerola juice enough to ensure getting the right dose of Vitamin C?
In case of Vitamin C, the situation is a bit complicated due to the fact that we, as humans, belong to the small group of mammals, which are deprived of the ability to synthesize Vitamin C and we must provide a proper amount of it with either food or supplementation. This is the only way to deliver it into our body. Additionally, Vitamin C is soluble in water and excreted with urine within few hours. Therefore there is no possibility to store it. We must take care of delivering it in appropriate doses. If someone is consciously planning their diet, has knowledge about nutritional values of individual nutrients, the matter is simple. But it is much worse when our diet is repetitive, poor in fruits and vegetables, and in addition we belong to one of the risk groups (look: people who are especially vulnerable to Vitamin C deficiency – listed above). It is worth pointing out that in one lemon – so wrongly indicated as the best source of Vitamin C – there is as little as 35% of daily requirement for Vitamin C. If additionally we are smokers, our demand rises by as much as 40%. Not everyone is able to provide her or his body with such a large dose of Vitamin C in food. One may find dietary supplements helpful because they are a very good source of additional support providing the indicated dose of Vitamin C. However here it is extremely important which dietary supplements we will choose.
All that glitters is not gold – how to choose dietary supplement wisely?
On the dietary supplements market, we can usually find its synthetic form, i.e. Synthetic L-Ascorbic Acid. It is very poorly absorbed form, and its long-term use in large doses may cause side effects. Vast majority of synthetic forms is made from maize, which in its natural composition does not contain any Vitamin C. We can only imagine how many processes it takes to produce such supplement.
So what’s the conclusion? Shouldn’t we supplement ourselves?
We should take supplements but we must do it wisely! How? By making conscious choices. The best we can do for our organism is to provide it with the most valuable and natural ingredients. And if it is not possible, we must choose ones as close to natural as possible. Therefore, choosing supplements, let’s find ones that are 100% natural, made of what nature has given. No synthetic forms, no processing, no complicated chemical processes. Despite the outbreak of synthetic forms, natural Vitamin C in the form of a supplement is also available on the market – for example Natural Vitamin C Body Empire®. We must remember that what is natural is the best for us.
A list of products that are actually rich in Vitamin C is good to be hanged on the fridge and to be remembered when composing the daily menu. And as we already know Vitamin C likes to quickly escape from our bodies, so it is definitely worth supporting the diet with supplementation – healthy, safe and only natural!