The winter season is upon us, which means blankets, hot chocolate and of course colds and flu! A good way to protect yourself against colds is to take vitamin C…


The body does not naturally make vitamin C and it does not store it, so you need a daily dose in order to remain healthy. Vitamin C plays an important role in your everyday functioning, for example it helps to heal wounds and form scar tissue, as it forms an important protein which is used to make skin, tendons and blood vessels. It also helps to repair and maintain cartilage, bones and teeth. People have used vitamin C for many years as a remedy for the common cold, but taking vitamin C after a cold starts will not help. It is more of a preventative measure. For those who catch a cold while taking vitamin C, the cold will last for a shorter period and have milder symptoms.

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals. The build up of free radicals over a period of time is largely responsible for the aging process, and free radicals may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.

Too little vitamin C can lead to health problems such as: 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 and scaly skin, swollen painful joints, and weakened tooth enamel. Amazing how taking one vitamin can prevent all these things!

It is recommended that the average intake is 75mg per day for women and 90mg for men, but if you’re a smoker you may need more. Vitamin C also helps you to absorb iron and low levels of vitamin C are linked to a lack of iron. The more you smoke the more vitamin C you lose from your tissues and blood, and your body needs more vitamin C to counteract the damage that smoking causes to your cells.

The orange has come to be associated with vitamin C, but there are many other foods which contain it, namely: Citrus fruits and juices, such as grapefruit and lemon, kiwi fruit, mango, papaya, pineapple, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, watermelon, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, green and red peppers, spinach, cabbage, and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, tomatoes and tomato juice.

If you feel you are not taking in enough vitamin C or want to take extra as a precaution for the winter months there are a variety of supplements available which are relatively inexpensive depending on the brand you buy. Visit your nearest pharmacy and stock up for winter!

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