Vitamin C - strengthening for the immune system

citrus fruits with a lot of vitamin c

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a micronutrient also called ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Water solubility describes how the body absorbs, transports and stores the nutrients. Water-soluble vitamins are not really stored well in the body and must therefore be continuously absorbed through food. Getting a continuous supply of vitamin C is very important because it is responsible for many functions of the immune system.


Why is vitamin C so important?

  • Vitamin C is important for many metabolic processes. It is actively involved in the defence against viruses and bacteria and is therefore an essential component of our immune system.
  • It is also involved in the regulatory circuits of sex hormones, stress hormones, growth hormones and thyroid hormones. Thus it is also important for the development of connective tissue, teeth and bones.
  • Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it protects the cells from free radicals.
  • The vitamin also inhibits the formation of nitrosamines, which cause cancer, and improves the absorption of iron from plant foods.

Daily vitamin C requirement (in mg/day)

Age Male Female
Young people 15 to under 19 years 105 90
Adults 19 to under 25 110 95
Adults 25 to under 51 years 110 95
Adults 51 to 65 years 110 95
Adults >65 years 110 95
Pregnant women 105
Breastfeeding 125

* D-A-CH reference values for nutrient supply, 1st edition 2015

“Smokers have a higher vitamin C requirement”

This is due to the increased vitamin C turnaround in relation to non-smokers. Smokers have higher metabolic losses and lower vitamin C levels in their blood. Accordingly smokers should get a total of 135-155 mg of vitamin C per day.


Which foods contain a lot of vitamin C?

micronutrients vitamins for a healthy diet

The best sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables and products made from them.
Some examples are:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Potatoes
  • Cabbage
  • Spinach
  • Tomatoes

Sea buckthorn berries and their juice, parsley, blackcurrants and peppers have a particularly high vitamin C content.


Vitamin C deficiency

sick woman sitting on a chair, drinking tea

A vitamin C deficiency is very rare nowadays. Our daily supply can be easily covered with normal food. In the past, vitamin C deficiency was more common and was known as “sailor’s disease” or “scurvy”. In those days, seamen were on the road for months and their diets consisted largely of preserved meats and dried biscuit products. Their teeth fell out, dark spots formed all over their bodies and skin bleeding occurred. This led to numerous deaths without any apparent reason for the sailors. Later it was discovered that vitamin C deficiency was the cause. From then on, the seamen took sauerkraut to sea and, would stock up on fruit and vegetables whenever they were at shore. This brought an end to the “sailor’s disease”.


Tips for getting enough vitamin C

  1. 5 a day rule: eat 3 portions of vegetables and 2 portions of fruit a day
  2. Add fruit and/or vegetables to each meal to achieve the above “5 a day” rule
  3. Fruit and vegetables should only be washed briefly under running water in order to minimise vitamin loss
  4. Use vitamin-saving cooking methods such as steaming

“You can cover your daily requirement with 75 grams of pepper and 125 ml orange juice”


Conclusion

If you eat a balanced and varied diet, you do not need to worry about vitamin C deficiency. The tips for an optimal vitamin C supply will help you. You don’t want to think about it? Then take a look at our individual nutrition plans. The recipes are guaranteed to meet your vitamin C requirements and taste great.


Frequently asked questions and answers

Vitamin C is important for many metabolic processes. It is important for the building of connective tissue, teeth and bones. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it protects the cells from free radicals. Vitamin C is also an essential component of our immune system. The vitamin also inhibits the formation of nitrosamines, which cause cancer, and improves the absorption of iron from plant foods.

If you consume more than 3-4 g of vitamin C per day this can cause gastrointestinal complaints and diarrhoea. Otherwise there is no danger. Exceptions are people who suffer from kidney damage or an iron utilization disorder, or have a predisposition for urinary or kidney stones. But here too, quantities of up to 1 g per day shouldn’t cause any harmful side effects.

There is no scientific evidence that taking vitamin C tablets protects against colds. Therefore no general recommendation is made in this regard. However, the situation is different for people under heavy physical strain or in cold environments. They have been shown to have a lower risk of illness by taking vitamin C supplements.


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