Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, a water-soluble vitamin, is critical for a healthy immune system. This vitamin is not produced by our body and must be acquired through everyday foods that we eat.
Vitamin C helps in the growth and repair of tissues all over the body, aids to heal wounds and repairs and maintains healthy cartilage, bones, teeth and skin. Vitamin C, as an antioxidant, fights free radicals in the body which may help prevent or delay certain cancers and heart disease and promote healthy aging. The reaction between antioxidants and free radicals is described clearly in the website www.firsteatright.com. Vitamin C also helps to reduce the progress of cartilage loss in those with osteoarthritis. Though Vitamin C is not a tonic against cold, there is evidence that high doses of vitamin C help to decrease the length of cold symptoms by as much as one to one-and-a-half days for some people.
There does exist many great sources of vitamin C, other than oranges. Vitamin C is bountiful in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, strawberries, green and red bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwifruit. Though these foods can be eaten in raw or cooked form, remember that overheating or prolonged storing can lead to loss of vitamin C content in these foods. To avoid this scenario, try to consume these foods within a day or two after purchasing or consider steaming or microwaving vegetables for short periods of time to limit nutrient loss.
The good news with vitamin C for vegetarians is that, this vitamin helps the body to absorb non-heme iron in a better way — the kind from plant foods such as beans, spinach and quinoa. To make use of this advantage, try to eat vitamin C-rich foods along with iron-rich plant foods during a single meal. For instance, mix black beans and salsa or create a flavorful spinach salad with strawberries and mandarin oranges.