By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) is one of the most important vitamins for the health of every tissue in the body and the immune system. In studies, it has been shown to be an important antioxidant in relation to fertility.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water- soluble vitamin, and as we do not make it in the body and are also unable to store it, we rely on our diet to obtain what we need. Excess vitamin C is rapidly excreted from the body and lost from foods, especially when they are boiled, stored for long periods of time and exposed to air (after cutting/chopping). To obtain adequate amounts it is important to eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day ( at least 7 is ideal). Many people benefit form supplementing vitamin C- check with your GP/qualified Nutritional Therapist/Dietician to understand if it is necessary for your situation and the correct amount for you if needed (too high a dose of vitamin c may cause problems such as diarrhoea and kidney stones).
Which foods provide us with vitamin C?
Berries, tomatoes, kiwifruit, citrus fruit, peppers, pineapples, mango, melon, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, brussel sprouts.
Why is it 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
What can cause a deficiency in Vitamin C?
Stress, infections, alcohol (prevents absorption of vitamin C), aspirin, smoking (depletes levels of vitamin C)
What are the symptoms of a deficiency?
Skin problems, bleeding gums, fatigue, lowered immune activity, hypoglycemia, blood and skin problems
Why is it important for fertility?
Powerful antioxidant which is important in protecting sperm and egg DNA from free radical damage.
Studies have shown that vitamin C reduces sperm agglutination (clumping) and improves sperm motility.
Multiple studies have found that taking vitamin C with vitamin E improved the number, mobility, and sometimes DNA integrity of sperm in men.
As vitamin C is involved in glucose metabolism- it helps with sugar balance . This is important for hormone balance too.
Did you know?
That serving a salad with a portion of red pepper and a portion of tomatoes will provide you with your vitamin C for the day.