So, you’re trying to stay healthy.
The classic way to boost your immune system is to pump your body with vitamin C, but what’s the best way to do that? And will it really minimize your risk of coming down with a cold? With myriad products claiming they’ll help you ward off sickness, you should know the facts.
Read on to learn about the sources and benefits of vitamin C.
Never Miss a Beat!
Subscribe to Our HealthBeat Newsletter!
Get Healthy Tips Sent to Your Phone!
Where Does Vitamin C Come From?
Unlike other animals, the human body doesn’t make vitamin C on its own, and it can’t store the nutrient for any period of time. That’s why it’s essential to get plenty of vitamin C through your diet or dietary supplements.
Vitamin C is naturally found in foods such as:
- Oranges and citrus fruits
- Brussels sprouts
- Bell peppers
You can also get vitamin C from supplements that come in many forms, from chewables to effervescent tablets to gummies.
You might also like…
Which Is Better: Supplement or Food?
There doesn’t seem to be a significant difference in vitamin C benefits between consuming it in a supplement versus in whole foods. In both cases, the nutrient comes from ascorbic acid. As long as you’re getting enough vitamin C (the National Institutes of Health recommend 75-90 milligrams per day for adults), both forms provide the same level of health benefits.
However, fruits and vegetables can lose some of their potency when they’re cooked. To get enough vitamin C, try to eat raw, uncooked foods with vitamin C. If these foods aren’t part of your daily diet, you might consider taking a vitamin supplement to make up the difference.
What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C? Can Vitamin C Prevent Colds?
Your body needs vitamin C for all of the following:
- Maintaining muscles, tendons, and blood vessels
- Healing wounds
- Repairing and maintaining teeth, bones, and cartilage
- Absorbing iron
Vitamin C benefits also include helping your immune system to function properly and helping your skin recover from sunburn.
Although we tend to turn to vitamin C when we feel a cold coming on, there’s little evidence that vitamin C can prevent colds altogether. Regular vitamin C intake can help make viruses shorter or less severe, though it won’t stop them altogether, according to the NIH. Vitamin C taken after the onset of cold or flu symptoms likely will not provide any benefit.
You should ensure you’re getting plenty of vitamin C, because your body can’t stay healthy without it. But when it comes to preventing colds and the flu, it’s best to wash your hands often, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. Make sure you get plenty of rest and water, and maintain a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
To learn more about vitamin C and its benefits, find a doctor at UPMC.
A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.