Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Citrus fruits are all members of the Rutaceae family. The flowering plants in this family, sometimes referred to as the rue family, typically have a powerful fragrance. Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits are all members of the genus Citrus. Citrus fruit has been grown since ancient times and most probably originated from Australia, New Caledonia, and New Guinea, however some research suggests Southeast Asia as their original home. The aroma of all citrus fruits is well known and this is due to the plant chemicals (flavonoids and limonoids) that they contain (both of which have strong antioxidant and antibacterial properties).
Citrus fruits and health
Citrus fruits are renowned for their high vitamin c content, and frequent consumption has been shown to lower the risk of coronary and heart disease while lengthening life expectancy. Additionally, vitamin C functions as a natural anti-histamine, preventing the release of histamine and supporting in its detoxification. As an antioxidant, vitamin c lowers oxidative stress to our cells and has an anti-ageing effect. Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) is one of the most important vitamins for the health of every tissue in the body and the immune system. It is a water-soluble vitamin that needs to be constantly replaced as it passes out of the body through the urine.
Why is vitamin c needed by the body?
- To support the immune system
- For the absorption of iron
- Involved in glucose metabolism
- Manufacture of hormones and certain neurotransmitters
- Formation of collagen in the skin
- Important in adrenal gland function – we excrete more vitamin C when under stress
- Healthy bones and tissue
- Growth and repair of blood vessels, gums, bones and teeth
Citrus fruits and fertility
Citrus fruits are a fantastic source of vitamin c, as mentioned above, but did you also know that they are also loaded with potassium, calcium, and folate? They also contain a plant compound called polyamine putrescine that helps to improve the health of egg and sperm cells.
Folate is a B vitamin that can help support fertility by regulating ovulation and creating an environment that is favourable for eggs. It also helps to reduce the risk of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.
Vitamin c is a powerful antioxidant that is important in the prevention of free radical damage to the egg and sperm cells and their DNA. In studies, it has been found to help improve sperm quality and motility and helps to prevent agglutination of sperm.
Calcium is important in developing and maintaining healthy bones and teeth and is involved in various chemical reactions in the body. Research has also discovered that in relation to fertility ‘calcium signals drive the fundamental events surrounding fertilization and the activation of development in all species examined to date’.
Did you know?
Oranges have long ruled as the preferred source of vitamin C when it comes to ensuring adequate intake. One medium-sized navel orange contains 70 mg of vitamin C, so you only need roughly one serving to get your recommended daily intake (the Daily Value for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men).
Miao YL, Williams CJ. Calcium signaling in mammalian egg activation and embryo development: the influence of subcellular localization. Mol Reprod Dev. 2012 Nov;79(11):742-56. doi: 10.1002/mrd.22078. Epub 2012 Sep 28. PMID: 22888043; PMCID: PMC3502661.