Oranges’ Role in Energy Boosting 

  • Saira Loane Master's of Toxicology, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham
  • Muna Hassan Bachelor of science in molecular biology and Genetics Üsküdar Üniversitesi
  • Kajal Madhavani MSc in Biomedical Science(Cancer Biology), University of Westminster

Overview

In today's world, building a robust immune system is more crucial than ever. Stress, pollution, and many other factors can affect the body's defence system. It is essential to take proactive measures to protect our immune system. 

One natural and powerful way to do so is by incorporating oranges into our daily lives. Due to their vibrant colour and zesty taste, oranges are not only a delightful snack but also a rich source of nutrients that can boost our immune system and keep us healthy.2

Oranges are an excellent energy source and help us maintain our energy levels throughout the day. They are rich in vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Consuming one orange a day can support mental and physical energy, improve circulation, optimise organ function, and increase metabolism.1

Freshly squeezed orange juice contains nutrients and antioxidants, particularly vitamin C and flavonoids. Studies suggest drinking orange juice can benefit heart, cognitive, and immune functions. It may also protect against kidney stones.1

Nutritional profile of oranges 

The secret behind the energy-boosting properties of oranges lies in their rich, nutritious profile.

Citrus fruits, such as oranges, contain various micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Many of these micronutrients, such as vitamin C and Folate, are essential components of oranges and contribute to the normal function of the immune system. According to The European Food Safety Authority, the vitamin C content of the orange juice is quoted as 31 mg/100 g and 40 mg/100 g, and the total folate content is 32 ug/100g and 22 ug/100 g juice stored in ambient and chilled temperature, respectively.3   

One orange has the following nutritional profile.

  • Calories: 72.8
  • Fat: 0.21g
  • Sodium: 12.6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 16.5g
  • Fiber: 2.8g
  • Protein: 1.27g

In addition to Vitamin C and fibre, oranges are packed with potassium and folate. Potassium supports maintaining the heart muscles, and folate is vitamin B that helps make red blood cells and DNA.

  • Oranges are also a good source of flavonoids, plant compounds with antioxidant properties that protect the body against oxidative stress. 
  • Oranges also contain small amounts of calcium and magnesium. Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth, while magnesium has many functions, such as strengthening the immune system and regulating heartbeat.1
  • Oranges are a good energy source for natural sugars such as glucose, fructose, and sucrose. Unlike processed sugars, sugar in oranges provides a more stable and sustained energy release. The body quickly absorbs the natural sugars and offers a quick energy boost. Vitamin C in oranges helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue.  

Immune system boost

As oranges are high in vitamin C, they are essential for the immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the increase of white blood cells, boosts their functions, and keeps the body fighting against diseases and infections. 

Vitamin C

Severe vitamin C deficiency can lead to a potentially fatal disease, scurvy. Scurvy can weaken the collagenous structure, resulting in poor wound healing and impaired immunity. Individuals suffering from scurvy are highly susceptible to infectious diseases like pneumonia. Infection, in return, can significantly affect the vitamin C level due to enhanced infection and metabolic requirements. Vitamin C also stimulates neutrophil migration to the site of infection and increases the release of oxidants.8

  • Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that protects the body against harmful substances. Vitamin C is vital in preventing and treating respiratory and systemic infections by increasing various immune cell functions.
  • Vitamin C is the fourth leading nutrient deficiency in the US, and this is due to reduced intake of vitamin C combined with limited body stores.8

Hydration

Oranges are hydrating fruits. Eating oranges can help with hydration: one orange contains 86% water. 100% orange juice is an excellent source of electrolytes, such as potassium, which aid in fluid balance. 

Studies have shown that drinking 100% orange juice after exercising helps maintain hydration levels just as effectively as water or sports drinks. It's a great choice for adults to stay hydrated and prevent dehydration.7

Electrolytes

Potassium is a vital electrolyte in all cells; it helps maintain the body’s fluid balance by establishing a solid bond with sodium. For most people, potassium intake is less than sodium, so drinking 100% orange juice is a good source of potassium. An 8-ounce of 100% orange juice offers the recommended daily dose of potassium.

Magnesium

Magnesium is another vital mineral in the body that is essential for the normal regulation of the heart muscles. Drinking orange juice can contribute to 6% of the recommended daily magnesium intake. 

Calcium

Calcium has many functions in our body and is essential for muscle contractions. Fortified orange juices are an excellent source of calcium and provide 30% of the daily recommended intake, similar to drinking one glass of milk.7

Antioxidants

Besides providing energy, oranges are a good source of antioxidants, which can protect against cell damage from free radicals. Antioxidants are chemicals that neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing cell damage. 

Free radicals

Free radicals are highly reactive chemicals that are naturally present in the body at high concentrations. They can damage the DNA and cell systems, which can lead to cancer and other chronic diseases.4

Vitamin C

 Vitamin C acts primarily as a water-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin C has anti-inflammatory effects because of its role as an antioxidant. Although cells of the immune -system contain high sources of vitamin C, these can be decreased due to cellular stimulation, resulting in the loss of antioxidant protective mechanisms. 

Oranges are packed with health-promoting compounds such as flavonoids, which are antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory. Research studies suggest that these phytochemicals help support the immune system and provide protection from cell damage. Oxidative stress can lead to inflammatory diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.4

Fibre

Oranges are an excellent source of fibre, including both soluble and insoluble fibres. Fiber plays an essential role in supporting the gut microbiota. The gut microbiota significantly affects the immune system, regulating immune responses and increasing the body's ability to fight infections. 

Soluble fibre, such as pectin, absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, which helps soften the stool, increase regular bowel movements, and prevent constipation. A fibre-rich diet, such as oranges, supports the immune system, regulates immune responses, and increases the body's ability to fight against infections9

It is important to note that while oranges are a great source of vitamin C and help regulate the immune system, a robust immune system also depends on other factors such as good sleep, less stress, regular exercise, and a balanced diet.  

FAQs

Does eating oranges reduce oxidative stress?

The answer is absolutely yes. We know oranges contain a good amount of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that reduces stress hormones, including cortisol. They are high in disease-fighting antioxidants. Smelling oranges can also offer the same benefits if you prefer something other than eating oranges. Combining eating healthy foods, such as oranges, with other methods of reducing stress can ultimately give you the biggest benefits.5

Can vitamin C give you energy?

Considering how vitamin C helps maintain a healthy immune system, a deficiency can increase the chances of infection. In addition to protecting against disease, vitamin C can also offer benefits in maintaining energy levels. Vitamin C is closely associated with mitochondria, also called the powerhouse of the cell.6

How many oranges should I eat per day to get the benefit?

The number of oranges you should eat depends on your daily vitamin C intake, calories, and other fruit consumption. A safe and healthy range should be between 2-4 oranges. Excessive intake of oranges can lead to digestive issues, and eating fewer oranges may not offer enough fibre and other nutrients.8 Eating whole oranges provides many more health benefits than drinking orange juice. 

Summary

Oranges are one of the most popular fruits; they are nutritious, delicious, and tasty. The remarkable benefits of incorporating oranges into your daily life cannot be overrated. 

Freshly squeezed orange juice is a good source of antioxidants, vitamin C, folate, and potassium. Besides these, oranges can help boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, and improve heart health.1

A lack of vitamin C can affect various aspects of our lives. It may lead us to need help sustaining our energy levels to perform our daily tasks. 

Their abundance of natural nutrients, sugar, fibre, hydration, and immune-boosting properties can provide an excellent addition to your diet. Ensuring adequate vitamin C intake through diet or supplements is necessary for the proper functioning of the immune system and resistance to infection.8

So, the next time you are looking for a healthy and tasty snack, reach for an orange and enjoy its benefits. 

References 

  1. Fenech M, Amaya I, Valpuesta V, Botella MA. Vitamin c content in fruits: biosynthesis and regulation. Front Plant Sci [Internet]. 2019 Jan 24 [cited 2023 Nov 10];9:2006. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6353827/
  2. Health [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 6]. Health benefits of oranges. Available from: https://www.health.com/food/health-benefits-oranges
  3. Miles EA, Calder PC. Effects of citrus fruit juices and their bioactive components on inflammation and immunity: a narrative review. Frontiers in Immunology [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Nov 6];12. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2021.712608
  4. Kaźmierczak-Barańska J, Boguszewska K, Adamus-Grabicka A, Karwowski BT. Two faces of vitamin c—antioxidative and pro-oxidative agent. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 May 21 [cited 2023 Nov 10];12(5):1501. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7285147/
  5. Does eating oranges reduce stress? - cates nutrition [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Nov 7]. Available from: https://sad-bassi3999.on.getshifter.io/does-eating-oranges-reduce-stress
  6. Vitamin c for energy: give yourself a boost | vitable [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 7]. Available from: https://www.vitable.com.au/blog/vitamin-c-benefits-from-energy-to-immunity-see-how-vitamin-c-could-help-support-your-health
  7. Hydration – florida citrus orange juice [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 7]. Available from: https://www.floridacitrus.org/oj/nutrition-facts/hydration/
  8. Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin c and immune function. Nutrients [Internet]. 2017 Nov [cited 2023 Nov 9];9(11):1211. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/11/1211
  9. Smith B. Discover the power of oranges: 15 remarkable benefits for your health fruit therapies [Internet]. Fruit Therapies. 2023 [cited 2023 Nov 9]. Available from: https://fruittherapies.com/discover-the-power-of-oranges-15-remarkable-benefits-for-your-health/
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Saira Loane

Master's of Toxicology, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham

Saira Loane is an aspiring medical writer with several years of experience working in scientific
research and developing high-quality medical content.

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