6 Herbs Could Boost Your Immunity

It’s that time of year — time to break out the boots, light up the fireplace, and restock your over-the-counter cold medicine. But maybe this year you’re not so keen on the de rigueur drowsiness that comes with Tylenol Cold or the sugary aftertaste of Emergen-C. If so, consider the power of plants to up your immunity and help you hedge infections. Yep, this is how to build a cold/flu season first aid kit with herbs. Remedies made from herbs and plants are a modality full of powerful allies for your health and immunity, explains Sarah Corbett, Atlanta-based clinical herbalist at Rowan and Sage — and science is starting to agree: “Research is beginning to confirm the efficacy of folk medicines people have been using for hundreds of years,” says Corbett. Here are 6 Herbs Could Boost Your Immunity and you can add to your medicine cabinet (or fridge, as it may be) for a prevention booster, or as a healing aid.

1. Elderberry

Chances are, you’ve already tried elderberry in some form or another, as this deep-purple berry has definitely gone mainstream in the past few years.

Also called sambucus, elderberry is antifungal, antibacterial, and antimicrobial, so it’s good at knocking out any kind of crud you’ve got going on. There’s evidence that elderberry is effective at treating the flu, as well.

It’s most commonly found as a syrup (it will make your kitchen smell divine if you DIY), but tinctures (a plant extract made with alcohol or glycerin), lozenges, and even gummies can work too.

Corbett advises taking this remedy once per day if you’re trying to prevent sickness, and then much more frequently once you’re already sick — every few hours or so.

Elderberry is considered safe, but don’t chug a whole bottle or anything like that — a teaspoon to a tablespoon of syrup at a time will work. Keep syrups in the fridge, as they aren’t shelf-stable. If you have any autoimmune disorders, it’s probably best to stay away (because it stimulates the immune system).

2. Echinacea

Another well known immune booster is echinacea, aka coneflower. It works by stimulating the immune system to produce natural killer cells and other sickness-fighters.

2015 meta-analysis concluded that echinacea may benefit folks with low immune function the most, even reducing the risk for a cold up to 35 percent.

Corbett suggests echinacea is most effective used right when you start to feel that tickle at the back of your throat, rather than when a full blown sickness has already taken hold.

A tincture is the best way to take it, she says, but teas won’t fail you either (especially since you’ll be hydrating your system in the meantime). Look for Echinacea angustifolia or a whole plant extract, because it’s the most chemically bioavailable (easily absorbed and used by the body).

It’s important to note that if you have a ragweed allergy, you may also be sensitive to echinacea — so if you feel any telltale allergy symptoms like itchiness, hives, or increased congestion, stop taking it immediately.

Note: If you have an autoimmune disorder, skip echinacea.

3. Ginger

Yes, ginger will soothe an upset stomach, but it’s also great for boosting your overall immunity during cold and flu season.

This versatile plant (which has been shown to be antimicrobial, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory) lends its natural fire to many different uses — sip on a ginger tea, head to the juice bar for a fresh ginger shot if you’re feeling icky, or just add more ginger to your cooking.

It’s pretty safe when used in cooking and remedies, but pregnant people shouldn’t ingest more than 2 grams of dried ginger per day.

4. Garlic

Garlic’s powers go well beyond making food taste delicious. It’s thought to stimulate the immune system and boost the efficacy of white blood cells, though studies are inconclusive.

Garlic is really easy to use — eat it every day to keep yourself feeling top notch. Up your garlic intake when you’re actually sick, too. Make a super garlick-y soup (don’t skimp on the bone broth, either), eat a couple of raw garlic cloves, roast a garlic bulb, or pack it into a jar of honey and let it sit for a few weeks to infuse.

Dietary doses of garlic are pretty safe. It would be difficult to take enough to harm you, but if you’re on anti-clotting medications, be cautious. (And brush your teeth if you find yourself going high on the hog with raw garlic, too!)

5. Fire cider

This intense liquid, sometimes also called the Master Tonic, is kitchen medicine at its best: an intense mixture of garlic, ginger, onion, horseradish and hot peppers (plus any number of other immune-boosting ingredients like turmeric, or tasty ones like lemon or rosemary) marinated in apple cider vinegar.

Fire cider gets its efficacy from the communal power of these sinus-clearing, warming, infection-fighting plants — plus an extra boost from the fermented ACV. And yes, this immune brew will burn (in a good way!) going down.

It’s ridiculously easy to make, so whip up a batch and toss it on your salad every night, sprinkle it on rice or quinoa, or take a shot when you feel a cold coming on. If handcrafting isn’t your jam, you should be able to find some from a local herbalist or at a natural food store.

6. Adaptogens

You’ve probably heard this wellness world buzzword in the last few years — adaptogens — but may not be clear on what exactly it means.

Essentially, adaptogens are therapeutic herbs that support the body in combating and adapting to stress. They’re great to use for people who get sick often, says Corbett, or in times of heavy stress, travel, or extra exposure to pathogens (rather than for every day maintenance or prevention).

Ashwagandha, reishi (both of which stimulate your infection fighting lymphocytes, or white blood cells,) and holy basil (stimulates the immune system and also fights viruses) are all good choices for immune support, explains Corbett.

Buy reishi as a powder and mix it into anything you’re eating or drinking — it’s safe to take in small doses (like a scoop of powder or a squirt of tincture). Ditto for ashwagandha — although steer clear of ashwagandha if you’re taking thyroid hormones like Synthroid.

Holy basil can be made into an infusion and sweetened with honey (don’t take it if you’re pregnant, though, says Corbett). Research some other options, try a few, and see which ones work for you.

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How Seed Cycling Supports Women Hormonal Health?

The human body is truly a wonderful apparatus, full of promise and complexity. While both male and female bodies experience regular hormonal fluctuations, females are understood to be unique in their experience of a monthly menses. The menstrual cycle itself is a carefully constructed dance played out monthly in the female bodied with the goal of releasing a single egg or mature oocyte. With intricate hormonal interplay, a single egg is chosen from thousands of possibilities to be released for potential fertilization. In this article I discussed about How Seed Cycling Supports Women Hormonal Health?

Follicular phase

The first half of the cycle, considered the follicular phase, begins with the onset of menses. At the beginning of this phase, the uterine lining is thick with nutrients to support and nourish an embryo. Should no embryo be present to nourish, female hormones estrogen and progesterone levels are decreased. This allows the thickened inner uterine lining to breakdown and to be shed, resulting in menses. At the ovarian level, follicle stimulating hormone levels increase during this phase, stimulating the development of several follicles within the ovary. As follicle stimulating hormone levels decrease, a single follicle continues to develop above the rest.

Luteal phase

The second half of the cycle, or the luteal phase begins 14 days into the cycle with ovulation and the expression of a single mature egg from the chosen follicle. Following the release of an egg, the follicle expresses female hormone progesterone. Progesterone aids in the preparation of the uterus for potential implantation. Estrogen remains high throughout this aspect of the cycle. Should fertilization and implantation not occur, the follicle degenerates, progesterone and estrogen decrease and menses occurs.

This elaborate interplay of hormones is susceptible to disturbances and it is estimated that more than 20% of women experience irregular cycles. Practicing seed cycling throughout the monthly cycle has been shown to support female hormonal health anecdotally for many years. In modern times, the practice is gaining scientific backing and greater understanding as a tool to support fertility and reproductive health.

The practice of seed cycling involves rotating seeds into the diet throughout the follicular and luteal phases of the menstrual cycle, with the intention of supporting the correlating hormones. The seeds involved are high in essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are necessary for regular hormone production. The seeds can also be helpful in binding and excreting excessive hormones.

In the first half of the cycle, or days 1-14, seeds that are supportive of estrogen such as flax seeds or pumpkin seeds are ingested daily. Flax seeds contain lignans which can bind to excess estrogen in the body allowing for more efficient elimination. The second half of the cycle, or days 15-30, includes seeds focused on supporting progesterone such as sunflower seeds or sesame seeds. Seeds can be easily incorporated in raw or ground form into a daily diet in smoothies, yogurt, or protein snack balls. Including seeds in a daily diet is a uniquely simple and economical way to support hormonal health for women of all ages.

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Top 13 Immunity Boosting Foods

 The immune system consists of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. Together, these carry out bodily processes that fight off pathogens, which are the viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease. When the immune system comes into contact with a pathogen, it triggers an immune response. The immune system releases antibodies, which attach to antigens on the pathogens and kill them. Incorporating specific foods into the diet may strengthen a person’s immune response. Read on to discover Top 13 Immunity Boosting Foods.

Which foods boost the immune system?

A healthful, balanced diet plays a vital role in staying well. The following foods may help to boost the immune system:

1. Blueberries

Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person’s immune system. A 2016 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system.

Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.

2. Dark chocolate

Dark chocolate contains an antioxidant called theobromine, which may help to boost the immune system by protecting the body’s cells from free radicals.

Free radicals are molecules that the body produces when it breaks down food or comes into contact with pollutants. Free radicals can damage the body’s cells and may contribute to disease.

Despite its potential benefits, dark chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, so it is important to eat it in moderation.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellow spice that many people use in cooking. It is also present in some alternative medicines. Consuming turmeric may improve a person’s immune response. This is due to the qualities of curcumin, a compound in turmeric.

According to a 2017 review, curcumin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Oily fish

Salmon, tuna, pilchards, and other oily fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.

According to a 2014 report, long-term intake of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

RA is a chronic autoimmune condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks a healthy part of the body.

5. Broccoli

Broccoli is another source of vitamin C. It also contains potent antioxidants, such as sulforaphane. For these reasons, it is a good choice of vegetable to eat regularly to support immune system health.

6. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, a type of antioxidant that gives the skin of the potatoes its orange color.

Beta carotene is a source of vitamin A. It helps to make skin healthy and may even provide some protection against skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays.

7. Spinach

Spinach may boost the immune system, as it contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including:

  • flavonoids
  • carotenoids
  • vitamin C
  • vitamin E

Vitamins C and E can help support the immune system.

Research also indicates that flavonoids may help to prevent the common cold in otherwise healthy people.

8. Ginger

People use ginger in a variety of dishes and desserts, as well as in teas.

According to a review, ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties and is likely to offer health benefits. However, more research is necessary to confirm whether or not it can effectively prevent illness.

9. Green tea

Green tea contains only a small amount of caffeine, so people can enjoy it as an alternative to black tea or coffee. Drinking it may also strengthen the immune system.

As with blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids, which may reduce the risk of a cold.

10. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds can make a tasty addition to salads or breakfast bowls. They are a rich source of vitamin E, an antioxidant.

In the same way as other antioxidants, vitamin E improves immune function. It does this by fighting off free radicals, which can damage cells.

11. Almonds

Almonds are another excellent source of vitamin E. They also contain manganese, magnesium, and fiber.

A small handful or a quarter of a cup of almonds is a healthful snack that may benefit the immune system.

12. Oranges or kiwifruit (kiwis)

Oranges and kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C, which is the vitamin that many people turn to when they feel a cold developing.

While scientists are still not sure exactly how it helps, vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system.

13. Red bell pepper

For people trying to avoid the sugar in fruit, red bell peppers are an excellent alternative source of vitamin C.

Stir-frying and roasting both preserve the nutrient content of red bell peppers better than steaming or boiling, according to a study on cooking methods.

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8Nutrients that are essential for our immune system

Who doesn’t want a healthy immune system? (Raise your hand. No one?) But did you know the role your diet plays in keeping it in top shape to protect you from toxins and infections? Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round. You can’t just eat an orange or grapefruit and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent a cold. A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time, plus normal sleep patterns and a hefty dose of exercise. With some exceptions, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form. Here are some 8Nutrients that are essential for our immune system.

Vitamin C

You probably know about vitamin C’s connection to the immune system, but did you know you can get it from much more than just citrus fruits? Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya are also excellent sources. In fact, vitamin C is in so many foods that most people may not need to take supplements unless a doctor advises it.

Vitamin E

Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are all high in vitamin E. So are spinach and broccoli if you prefer to increase your intake through meals rather than snacks.

This important vitamin — part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body — is critical in how your immune system functions. Foods high in vitamin B6 include bananas, lean chicken breast, cold-water fish such as tuna, baked potatoes and chickpeas. Bring on the hummus!

Vitamin A

For vitamin A, go colorful. Foods that are high in colorful compounds called carotenoids — carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe and squash — are all great options. The body turns these carotenoids into vitamin A, and they have an antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system against infection.

Vitamin D

As mentioned above, it’s best to get most of your vitamins from food, but vitamin D may be the exception to that rule. You can increase your intake through foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines) and fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals. Many people have a hard time absorbing vitamin D from food, so if you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about supplements.

Folate/folic acid

Folate is the natural form, and folic acid is the synthetic form, often added to foods because of its health benefits. To get more folate, add more beans and peas to your plate on a regular basis, as well as leafy green vegetables. You can also get folic acid in fortified foods (check the label) such as enriched breads, pastas, rice and other 100 percent whole-grain products.

Iron

Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to cells, comes in different forms. Your body can more easily absorb “heme iron,” which is abundant in lean poultry such as chicken and turkey, plus seafood. But never fear, vegetarians: You can get other forms of iron in beans, broccoli and kale.

Selenium

Selenium seems to have a powerful effect on the immune system, including the potential to slow the body’s over-active responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer. You can find it in garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts and barley, among other foods.

Zinc

You can find zinc in oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans (skip the kind with added sugar), yogurt and chickpeas. Zinc appears to help slow down the immune response and control inflammation in your body.

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VitaminC: Could help relieve symptoms of Common Cold

An analysis of 29 studies including 11,306 participants concluded that supplementing with 200 mg or more of vitamin C did not reduce the risk of catching a cold. This article explains about VitaminC: Could help relieve symptoms of Common Cold.

However, regular vitamin C supplements had several benefits, including:

  • Reduced cold severity: They reduced the symptoms of a cold, making it less severe.
  • Reduced cold duration: Supplements decreased recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children, on average.

A supplemental dose of 1–2 grams was enough to shorten the duration of a cold by 18% in children, on average.

Other studies in adults have found 6–8 grams per day to be effective.

Vitamin C appears to have even stronger effects in people who are under intense physical stress. In marathon runners and skiers, vitamin C alantost halved the duration of the common cold

How Does Vitamin C Reduce the Severity of Colds?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and necessary to produce collagen in the skin.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, keeping skin and various tissues tough but flexible.

A vitamin C deficiency results in a condition known as scurvy, which isn’t really a problem today, as most people get enough vitamin C from foods.

However, it’s less known that vitamin C is also highly concentrated in immune cells and quickly depleted during an infection.

In fact, a vitamin C deficiency significantly weakens the immune system and increases the risk of infections.

For this reason, getting enough vitamin C during an infection is a good idea.

Other Nutrients and Foods That May Help

There is no cure for the common cold.

However, some foods and nutrients can help the body recover. In the past, people have used various foods to reduce their symptoms.

Few of these are scientifically proven to work, but some are backed by evidence.

  • Flavonoids: These are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Studies suggest that flavonoid supplements may reduce the risk of infections in the lungs, throat and nose by 33%, on average.
  • Garlic: This common spice contains some antimicrobial compounds that may help fight respiratory infections. Read this detailed article for more information.
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Can Garlic Fights Colds and The Flu?

Garlic has been used for centuries as both a food ingredient and a medicine. In fact, eating garlic can provide a wide variety of health benefits. This includes reduced heart disease risk, improved mental health and enhanced immune function . This article explains Can Garlic Fights Colds and The Flu?

Garlic Can Boost Immune Function

Garlic contains compounds that help the immune system fight germs.

Whole garlic contains a compound called alliin. When garlic is crushed or chewed, this compound turns into allicin (with a c), the main active ingredient in garlic.

Allicin contains sulfur, which gives garlic its distinctive smell and taste (8).

However, allicin is unstable, so it quickly converts to other sulphur-containing compounds thought to give garlic its medicinal properties.

These compounds have been shown to boost the disease-fighting response of some types of white blood cells in the body when they encounter viruses, such as the viruses that cause the common cold or flu.

Can Garlic Help Prevent Colds and The Flu?

Garlic has shown promise as a treatment for preventing colds and the flu.

Studies have shown that garlic reduces the risk of becoming sick in the first place, as well as how long you stay sick. It can also reduce the severity of symptoms.

One study gave 146 healthy volunteers either garlic supplements or a placebo for three months. The garlic group had a 63% lower risk of getting a cold, and their colds were also 70% shorter.

Another study found that colds were on average 61% shorter for subjects who ate 2.56 grams of aged garlic extract per day, compared to a placebo group. Their colds were also less severe (9).

If you often get sick with a cold or flu, eating garlic can help reduce your symptoms or prevent your illness entirely.

However, a review of the evidence found that many of the studies investigating the effects of garlic on the common cold were of poor quality.

It’s also unknown if you need to take garlic constantly, or if it also works as a short-term treatment when you start getting sick.

How to Maximize the Benefits of Garlic

The way garlic is processed or prepared can really change its health benefits.

The enzyme alliinase, which converts alliin into the beneficial allicin, only works under certain conditions. It can also be deactivated by heat.

One study found that as little as 60 seconds of microwaving or 45 minutes in the oven can deactivate alliinase, and another study found similar results (1314).

However, it was noted that crushing garlic and allowing it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking can help prevent the loss of its medicinal properties.

The researchers also stated that the loss of health benefits due to cooking could be compensated for by increasing the amount of garlic used.

Here are a few ways to maximize the health benefits of garlic:

  • Crush or slice all your garlic before you eat it. This increases the allicin content.
  • Before you cook with your crushed garlic, let it stand for 10 minutes.
  • Use a lot of garlic — more than one clove per meal, if you can.

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Can vitamin C prevent a cold?

Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy. The nutrient is featured in supplements promising to boost the immune system. Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claimed that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. Is there something to these claims? “The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Can vitamin C prevent a cold?

About vitamin C

Our bodies don’t make vitamin C, but we need it for immune function, bone structure, iron absorption, and healthy skin. We get vitamin C from our diet, usually in citrus fruits, strawberries, green vegetables, and tomatoes. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 90 milligrams (mg) per day, and for women, it’s 75 mg per day.

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The impact on colds

The most convincing evidence to date comes from a 2013 review of 29 randomized trials with more than 11,000 participants. Researchers found that among extremely active people—such as marathon runners, skiers, and Army troops doing heavy exercise in subarctic conditions—taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C every day appeared to cut the risk of getting a cold in half. But for the general population, taking daily vitamin C did not reduce the risk of getting a cold.

More encouraging: taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day did appear to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, which translated to about one less day of illness. “That could be important for some people, since the common cold causes 23 million lost days of work each year,” says Dr. Bistrian.

What you should do

If you want the benefits of vitamin C, you’ll need to consume it every day, and not just at the start of cold symptoms.

Should you take a supplement? “It’s better to get vitamin C from food, because you also get other important nutrients. Eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for general health, and you’ll get enough vitamin C,” advises Dr. Bistrian.

What about claims that massive doses of vitamin C can help prevent a cold? Some studies have suggested there may be a benefit, but they required doses of 8,000 mg per day.

At doses above 400 mg, vitamin C is excreted in the urine. A daily dose of 2,000 mg or more can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and it may interfere with tests for blood sugar.

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Vitamin C recommendations and Side effects

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. It’s well known for being a potent antioxidant, as well as having positive effects on skin health and immune function. Vitamin C recommendations and Side effects are mentioned in below.

Side Effects

Serious side effects from too much vitamin C are very rare, because the body cannot store the vitamin. However, amounts greater than 2,000 mg/day are not recommended. Doses this high can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. Large doses of vitamin C supplementation are not recommended during pregnancy. They can lead to shortage of vitamin C in the baby after delivery.

Too little vitamin C can lead to signs and symptoms of deficiency, including:

  • Anemia
  • Bleeding gums
  • Decreased ability to fight infection
  • Decreased wound-healing rate
  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Easy bruising
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Nosebleeds
  • Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
  • Rough, dry, scaly skin
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Weakened tooth enamel

A severe form of vitamin C deficiency is known as scurvy. This mainly affects older, malnourished adults.

Recommendations

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamins reflects how much of each vitamin most people should get each day. The RDA for vitamins may be used as goals for each person.

How much of each vitamin you need depends on your age and gender. Other factors, such as pregnancy and illnesses, are also important.

The best way to get the daily requirement of essential vitamins, including vitamin C, is to eat a balanced diet that contains a variety of foods.

Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin C:

Infants

  • 0 to 6 months: 40* milligrams/day (mg/day)
  • 7 to 12 months: 50* mg/day

*Adequate Intake (AI)

Children

  • 1 to 3 years: 15 mg/day
  • 4 to 8 years: 25 mg/day
  • 9 to 13 years: 45 mg/day

Adolescents

  • Girls 14 to 18 years: 65 mg/day
  • Pregnant teens: 80 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding teens: 115 mg/day
  • Boys 14 to 18 years: 75 mg/day

Adults

  • Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
  • Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day
  • Pregnant women: 85 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding women: 120 mg/day

Smokers or those who are around secondhand smoke at any age should increase their daily amount of vitamin C an additional 35 mg per day.

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and those who smoke need higher amounts of vitamin C. Ask your health care provider what amount is best for you.

Alternative Names

Ascorbic acid; Dehydroascorbic acid

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Health benefits of vitamin C

Fruits and vegetables are the best food sources of vitamin C. Eating a variety of these healthful foods will help people meet their daily requirements. Health benefits of vitamin C are mentioned below.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, plays many important roles in the body. In particular, it is key to the immune system, helping prevent infections and fight disease.

The human body does not store vitamin C, so people need to get this nutrient from their diet every day. It dissolves in water, and any excess leaves the body in urine.

This article looks at the foods richest in vitamin C and how to include them in the diet. It also discusses the vitamin’s function and health benefits.

Why is vitamin C important?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It protects the body’s cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals can cause changes in cells and DNA that can lead to illnesses, including cancer.

This vitamin also plays a key role in almost all of the body’s tissues. Without vitamin C, the body cannot make collagen, a protein that is necessary for building and maintaining:

  • healthy bones
  • joints
  • skin
  • digestive tract tissues

Vitamin C is an important part of the immune system, which defends against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Studies show that low levels of vitamin C lead to problems with the immune system and other illnesses.

Vitamin C deficiency can result in a condition called scurvy. This deficiency is relatively rare in the United States.

A vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy, may cause:

  • joint pain
  • bleeding gums
  • fatigue
  • problems with wound healing
  • depression
  • tooth loss

Health benefits of vitamin C intake

The following sections discuss some of the most important benefits of vitamin C.

Boosting heart health

Some evidence suggests that vitamin C may help lower the risk of heart disease or its complications.

One study indicates that people who consume more vitamin C have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Other researchers are not convinced that vitamin C alone improves heart health. However, it is clear that eating more fruits and vegetables can help boost the health of the heart by providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Strengthening the immune system

Vitamin C has an immune-boosting effect that can help the body fight off illnesses, such as the common cold.

One study found that vitamin C helped prevent pneumonia and supported tetanus treatment. Also, findings of an animal study suggest that vitamin C plays a role in reducing lung inflammation that results from the flu.

Lowering the risk of some cancers

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it can prevent damage caused by free radicals. This may help prevent diseases such as cancer.

Investigations into whether vitamin C effectively prevents cancer have yielded mixed findings. However, the results of a few studies have been positive:

  • A meta-analysis found that vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of certain types of brain tumor.
  • Another study determined that high doses of vitamin C impaired the growth of colorectal tumors in mice.
  • A different meta-analysis observed that higher vitamin C intake was associated with a lower risk of lung cancer.
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Top 12 Vitamin C rich foods

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables. Top 12 Vitamin C rich foods are mentioned below.

1. Guava

Yellow and red fruits are usually credited with having high vitamin content, but guava is a fruit that stands tall as an exception. A single guava fruit, weighing 100 grams, has over 200mg of Vitamin C content (as per the USDA), which is almost twice as high as that in an orange.

2. Pineapple

Pineapple is an underrated nutrient powerhouse – the fruit contains huge amounts of vitamin C. A mineral which is rarely found in natural foods, manganese, is also found in pineapple making it a great addition to the diet.

3. Strawberries

Strawberries are known for their antioxidant properties all over, but they are also a rich source of vitamin C. Their vitamin C content is slightly more than that in a single orange.

4. Kiwi

If you’re looking for a healthy snack option or a way to add ‘green’ to your diet, Kiwi fruit is the way to go. Just one kiwi fruit contains up to 84mg of vitamin C, along with other vital vitamins such as vitamin K and E.

5. Mango

Mangoes are naturally high in vitamin C and beta-carotene, and thus help in boosting immunity as well. Green mangoes actually have more vitamin C content than their yellow or red counterparts.

6. Papaya

Papaya is best enjoyed fresh, whether as a salad or in the form of a juice. Half a papaya, if eaten raw, provides a significantly higher amount of Vitamin C than a single orange.

7. Broccoli

Apart from being a great vegetable for maintaining overall health, broccoli is also a great naturally occurring source of vitamin C, which helps repair damaged tissue and maintaining a healthy immunity.

8. Kale

Kale has a number of health benefits, and one of them is being high in vitamins C and K. A delicious kale juice is the way to add it to your diet or can even be replaced in pesto sauce, in place of basil.

9. Red And Yellow Bell Peppers

Red and yellow bell peppers are super rich in antioxidants, which help in maintaining eye and heart health. They also contain high amounts of vitamin C, which boosts collagen level and may help to prevent lung cancer too.

So, next time you’re looking for ways to add to your diet that are naturally high in vitamin C, try one of these options instead of using the regular orange.

10. Oranges

One medium-sized orange provides 70 mg of vitamin C, which is 78% of the DV.

Widely eaten, oranges make up a significant portion of dietary vitamin C intake.

Other citrus fruits can also help you meet your vitamin C needs. For example, half a grapefruit contains 44 mg or 73% of the DV, a mandarin 24 mg or 39% of the DV and the juice of one lime 13 mg or 22% of the DV.

11. Lemons

Lemons were given to sailors during the 1700s to prevent scurvy. One whole raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83 mg of vitamin C, or 92% of the DV.

The vitamin C in lemon juice also acts as an antioxidant.

When fruits and vegetables are cut, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. This triggers oxidation and turns the food brown. Applying lemon juice to the exposed surfaces acts as a barrier, preventing the browning process.

12. Parsley

Two tablespoons (8 grams) of fresh parsley contain 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended DV.

Along with other leafy greens, parsley is a significant source of plant-based, non-heme iron.

Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This helps prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia (27Trusted Source28Trusted Source).

One two-month study gave people on a vegetarian diet 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day with their meals. At the end of the study, their iron levels had increased by 17%, hemoglobin by 8% and ferritin, which is the stored form of iron, by 12% (29Trusted Source).

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