Why Vitamin C matters

Limes and lemons aren’tyour only source of the nutrient. Choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables to get your daily dose

Say Vitamin C and you almost immediately think of oranges and lemons. But did you know that a single red guava has over 200 mg of the nutrient in 100 grams, which is almost over thrice as that in an orange. You get just about 64 mg from 100 gm of orange and 48 mg from 100 ml of lime juice according to the Indian Food Composition Tables.

“Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin that helps to improve immunity, aids in the synthesis of collagen (skin protein), and production of certain neurotransmitters (the body’s chemical messengers). It is not stored in the body and requires daily intake,” says Bengaluru-based Dharshini Surendran, dietician. While 100 gm of gooseberry provides 247 mg, others like bell peppers (yellow, red, green: 120 mg), bitter gourd (50 mg), and raw mango (50 mg), can also provide the vitamin. Though it’s not possible to eat 100 gm of chillies, it’s good to know that they contain 90 mg of the vitamin.

The daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C for adults is 65 to 90 mg per day. “We need Vitamin C to help in the absorption of iron from food,” says Gayathri V, a dietician based in Kochi. “A balanced diet, for example dosa or idli and sambar with seasonal vegetables for breakfast; a lunch platter of rice, green vegetables, and dal; a guava or papaya for dessert, ensures that you not only get Vitamin C, but also carbs, proteins, and fats.”

Avoid caffeine as it inhibits Vitamin C absorption, stay hydrated, and cut down on meat, especially after you consume Vitamin C rich foods, advises Pradeepa Saravanan, dietician based in Coimbatore.“Include at least one serving of fresh fruits and vegetables per day in your diet. For example, a papaya salad with pomegranate, bell peppers, or banana. Vitamin C evaporates when exposed to heat, that’s why I recommend consuming 500 mg every day, not just during the pandemic but for life, to make up for the nutrient loss while cooking.”

One way of starting your day with a Vitamin C shot is to churn either three or four amla (gooseberries) or half a bitter gourd in the mixie with a handful of coconut bits and a jaggery to taste (nothing over a tablespoon). Mix with a little water, strain, and drink on an empty stomach. Here are a few recipes to help up Vitamin C levels.

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