How do I keep myself from getting sick?

Vitamin C oranges

This is quite the popular question nowadays, the truth is we don’t really have enough information to know how to accurately respond at the moment. The best we can do is try to be our healthiest selves, and go off of what we know from existing treated illnesses.

Vitamin C! I feel like by now we’ve all heard about the benefits surrounding this ever so elusive vitamin. There are whole brands centered around it’s immune boosting properties, and it’s abilities to make illnesses feel like a band of criminals that happen to run into batman. To an extent I agree, because research has shown that foods rich in vitamin C have one hell of an effect on our body’s ability to fight off harm being caused by external factors. Science hasn’t proven that taking this vitamin alone in supplement form is as effective, and if overdone can actually lead to other side effects like over absorption of iron, diarrhea, and kidney stones.

That being said, this article will dive into the foods richest in Vitamin C.

How Much Vitamin C Do We Need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin C is around ​90 milligrams per day for the average adult.​However, this is only the ​minimum ​amount needed to prevent scurvy, and if you’re a smoker, add 35 milligrams to that. So how much do we need for optimal health benefits? That magic number is ​200 milligrams per day​, which is equal to about 5 servings of fruits and veggies. Any higher than this and your body is unable to absorb it all. Since our bodies can’t produce vitamin C, we must take it in through our diet on the daily.

Top 5 Vitamin C Foods!

  1. Acerola Cherries​- they are tiny but mighty, with a 1⁄2 cup (49 grams) bringing in ​822 milligrams!
  2. Kakadu Plums​- an Australia native fruit with just 1 plum having ​481 ​milligrams.
  3. Red Bell Peppers​- Red is best because it’s been given the most time to ripen over green and yellow. 1 cup equals ​190 ​milligrams.
  4. Kiwis​- 1 green kiwi has about 106 milligrams, but if you can get your hands on the New Zealand golden kiwi, each one has got ​135 m​ illigrams
  5. Guava​- commonly found in Mexico, one of these little guys is loaded with ​125 milligrams.

Now that we know where we can get the most vitamin C, it’s also important to remember that they work best if eaten raw and unprocessed. Having them cooked, dried, or juiced deprives us of all the nutrients, water and fiber that they have to offer. Try them in some yummy coconut milk yogurt, salad, or smoothie and definately consume the skin if possible.

A Word of Caution…

Fruits and veggies are the best way to get vitamin C, and unfortunately, supplements won’t cut it. Much research has found that ​supplements increase risk of kidney stones and doesn’t reduce the risk of getting sick.​ A lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, which is fatal. Some signs our bodies give us when we’re low in vitamin C include:

  • Fatigue
  • Connective tissue weakness/joint pain
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Loosening/loss of teeth
  • Wounds not healing properly

For some of us, it can take up to a month of vitamin C deficiency for these symptoms to show, and it’s also very unlikely to happen in the modern world we live in. In developed countries like the United States, vitamin C is commonly added to fortified breakfast cereals. That’s not to say we should all aim to meet our vitamin C requirements through cereal, especially since it will lose its potency the longer it has been stored. It just goes to show how prevalent this vitamin is and that as long as we are all having a varied diet, we should get plenty.

What To Do

It is more important than ever to make sure we are getting all the vitamins and nutrients necessary to stay healthy and operating in tip top shape. Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and proper exercise will allow for our food to help us even more. Adding nutrients to an out of shape, sinking ship won’t do as much good. With the immune system boost vitamin C gives us, we’ll be better armed to weather any storm. Give the foods loaded in vitamin C a try, and if you don’t like any of the top 5 listed, don’t worry, most fruits and veggies have an adequate amount. Just don’t be afraid to try something new every once in a while and enjoy!