Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a crucial nutrient the body needs for various functions. It helps to protect cells from damage and plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones, and cartilage. Additionally, vitamin C aids in wound healing and helps the body absorb iron from plant-based sources.
One question that often arises is, does the sun give you vitamin C? While sunlight exposure can increase vitamin D levels, it is not a direct source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is primarily found in various fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, and broccoli. The body cannot store vitamin C, so it is essential to consume it through the diet daily. While it is possible to take vitamin C supplements, getting the nutrient through a varied and balanced diet is generally recommended to avoid the potential risks associated with excessive intake.
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a nutrient that is essential for overall health. It is also known as ascorbic acid and has several vital bodily functions. One of the primary roles of vitamin C is to help protect cells and keep them healthy. This vitamin also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones, and cartilage. Furthermore, vitamin C is necessary for proper wound healing.
Although it is commonly believed that the sun is a direct source of vitamin C, this is not entirely true. Sunlight exposure can increase vitamin C levels in the body, but it does not provide it directly. Therefore, consuming foods rich in vitamin C is essential to meet the daily recommended intake of 40mg for adults aged 19 to 64(1). Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and potatoes. It is important to note that vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, so it is necessary to consume it every day to avoid deficiency.
Sources of Vitamin C
While many people may believe that the sun is a source of vitamin C, it’s important to note that sunlight exposure doesn’t provide the body with vitamin C. Instead, the body primarily obtains vitamin C through the diet, specifically fruits and vegetables.
Some good sources of vitamin C in fruits include(2):
- Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruits
- Berries like strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries
- Kiwi fruit
Many vegetables are also excellent sources of vitamin C, including(2):
- Brussels sprouts
- Red and green peppers
- Sweet potatoes
It’s important to note that vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, so consuming enough of it daily is essential to maintain healthy levels. The recommended daily vitamin C intake for adults is 40mg daily. While it’s certainly possible to get enough vitamin C through diet alone, some people may take vitamin C supplements to ensure they meet their daily requirements. However, it’s essential not to take too much vitamin C, as high doses can lead to side effects like stomach pain, diarrhoea, and flatulence.
Does the Sun Give You Vitamin C?
Many people wonder if the sun can provide them with vitamin C. Unfortunately, the answer is no. The sun is not a direct source of vitamin C, so you cannot obtain vitamin C simply by exposing yourself to sunlight. Instead, vitamin C is primarily obtained through your diet, specifically fruits and vegetables.
To ensure that you are getting enough vitamin C, consuming foods that are good sources of this vitamin is essential. Some excellent sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, as well as berries like strawberries and raspberries. Other good sources of vitamin C include kiwifruit, broccoli, red and green peppers, and tomatoes. Including these foods can help you get enough vitamin C to support your overall health and well-being.
Daily Requirements and Potential Risks
Adults’ recommended daily vitamin C intake is around 75 to 90 milligrams per day(1). However, this amount may vary depending on various factors, such as age, gender, and health status. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables can help you meet your daily vitamin C needs.
While vitamin C is essential for good health, taking excessive amounts of vitamin C in supplement form can lead to potential risks. Consuming more than 2000 milligrams of vitamin C daily can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, and flatulence. Additionally, high doses of vitamin C may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners and chemotherapy drugs. Therefore, it is essential to follow the recommended daily vitamin C intake and obtain it from a balanced diet rather than relying solely on supplements.
According to the Department of Health and Social Care, consuming vitamin C from a balanced diet is the best way to ensure you get the recommended daily intake. The department recommends consuming five portions of fruits and vegetables daily for the necessary nutrients, including vitamin C; eating various fruits and vegetables can provide you with other essential vitamins and minerals necessary for overall health.
While sunlight exposure can have benefits such as promoting vitamin D production, it is crucial to obtain vitamin C primarily through a balanced diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin C for adults is 75-90 mg, and excessive intake through supplements can lead to potential risks such as stomach pain, diarrhea, and flatulence. It is best to obtain vitamin C from a balanced diet. The Department of Health and Social Care recommends consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily to meet daily vitamin C requirements.
Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious and nutritious options for getting enough vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits, berries like strawberries and raspberries, leafy greens like spinach and kale, and vegetables like broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all excellent sources of vitamin C. By incorporating these foods into our daily diet; we can help support our overall health and wellbeing while also ensuring that we meet our daily vitamin C requirements without relying on supplements or sunlight exposure.
Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin C. (2020). Retrieved May 6, 2023, from Nih.gov website: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
Vitamin C. (2012, September 18). Retrieved May 6, 2023, from The Nutrition Source website: https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-c/
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