Vitamin C And Its Role In Oranges

  • Zeina Al-Aitl Master's degree, Computer Software Engineering, Lebanese University - Faculty of Sciences
  • Zayan Siddiqui BSc in Chemistry with Biomedicine, KCL, MSc in Drug Discovery and Pharma Management, UCL

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Remember those days when you felt a bit low, and your mother handed you a glass of orange juice, saying, ‘You need some vitamin C’? Today, we’ll embark on a journey into the fascinating realm of vitamin C where we’ll uncover its essential role in maintaining our health, explore the numerous benefits it offers, and ultimately discover why oranges have earned their reputation as the ultimate powerhouse of this vital nutrient.

An overview of Vitamin C

History

As humans, our bodies cannot produce vitamin C naturally. Instead, we must obtain it from certain foods or supplements if needed.1 Back in the day, sailors experienced symptoms such as anaemia, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, easy bruising, fatigue and overall weakness, which were all due to a deficiency in vitamin C, a condition known as scurvy.2

Chemical properties

Vitamin C is highly soluble, which means it easily dissolves in water, allowing it to be quickly absorbed and carried through the bloodstream.1 The chemical formula of vitamin C is C6H8O6, representing its molecular composition.

Daily recommended intake

The daily recommended intake of vitamin C can vary depending on age groups. For adults, it is recommended to consume around 65 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day.3 However, there are different recommendations for kids based on their age and gender.3 Babies need around 40 milligrams, while children and teenagers should aim for 15 to 75 milligrams daily.3 For adults, it’s important to strike a balance between meeting daily vitamin C needs and avoiding excessive intake, as too much can lead to adverse effects.

Special dietary considerations — Pregnancy

Expecting mothers need more nutrients to support their health and the growth of their baby. Vitamin C is essential during pregnancy, usually requiring 85 milligrams or more every day.4 Talking to a healthcare provider or a dietitian can help pregnant females assigned at birth figure out exactly how much vitamin C they need and how to get it through their diet or supplements if necessary.

Significance in health

Vitamin C is indeed a fundamental nutrient with a critical role in promoting and sustaining overall health. We will delve deeper into its vital importance and uncover contributions to pursuing a healthy life.

Antioxidant

Antioxidants serve as protective shields for your cells, safeguarding them from free radicals that can cause harm by stealing electrons. These free radicals are often generated when we’re exposed to factors like UV (ultraviolet) light, leading to oxidative stress and potential cellular damage. Antioxidants jump in to neutralise these rogue molecules, preventing them from harming our cells. Vitamin C is a prime example of a valuable antioxidant that your body requires.5

Immune system

Think of vitamin C as your best friend when it comes to staying healthy and fighting off colds.6 It’s like your immune system’s energy booster, always ready to help you feel your best. Vitamin C enhances immune defence by aiding a range of cellular processes.7 A familiar ritual for many of us, when we start feeling under the weather, is reaching for that comforting glass of orange juice or considering a vitamin C supplement. It’s a practice embedded in our collective consciousness, a tried-and-true remedy that we turn to when we sense the first signs of a cold or illness creeping in. Why? This is because we recognize that vitamin C can offer that extra layer of defence our bodies need during these times of vulnerability. Whether it’s the soothing sip of a citrusy beverage or the daily intake of a vitamin C supplement, this essential nutrient is a reliable companion in our quest to regain our health. So, the next time you find yourself amid a health challenge, rest assured that vitamin C is there, extending its helping hand to guide you on your journey back to wellness.

Beauty

Vitamin C has become a cornerstone of a healthy skincare regimen. Many people incorporate it into their daily routine or use it as a serum to revitalise their skin, unlock its natural radiance and boost collagen production — a structural protein that serves as the glue holding our skin, bones, muscles, and tendons together. Collagen is the cornerstone of maintaining healthy skin, promoting wound healing and ensuring the flexibility and strength of our connective tissues. It’s the reason behind that youthful and radiant complexion we all desire. Vitamin C acts as a catalyst in the synthesis of collagen, helping our bodies create and repair this vital protein.8 When we get enough vitamin C, we’re giving our body the tools it needs to keep our skin youthful and our tissues strong. So, if you want to look and feel your best, remember that Vitamin C isn’t just a nutrient; it’s a secret to having healthy skin and strong tissues. Vitamin C also offers many health benefits that are important for our overall well-being.

Indeed, the health benefits of vitamin C are vast and play a vital role in our overall well-being. Now, let’s delve into the natural sources of this essential nutrient that we can easily include in our daily diet. And when it comes to the simplest and most delicious way to get your vitamin C, we can not but think of oranges!

The powerhouse of vitamin C

Orange

Oranges, with their delightful flavour and vibrant colour, hold a special place in many cultures. They are integrated into daily routines through practices like drinking orange juice, extracting orange blossom water or savouring the fruit on its own. Oranges are a nutritional powerhouse, offering a wide array of essential nutrients. These vibrant citrus fruits are renowned for their high vitamin C content.

Vitamin C is important for the health benefits of oranges, and it also helps keep the fruit and its nutrients fresh. So, when you have a tasty glass of orange juice, or you eat the fruit itself, know that you’re not just pleasing your taste buds; you’re also giving your body an important dose of vitamin C as well as other nutrients.

Ways to enjoy oranges

Incorporating oranges into your diet can be a delightful experience. Here are some delicious ways to enjoy them:

  • Fresh and juicy: Simply peel and eat an orange as a refreshing and convenient snack
  • Freshly squeezed: Start your day with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for a burst of vitamin C
  • Citrus salads: Add orange segments to your salads for a burst of flavour and nutrition
  • Smoothies: Blend oranges into your morning smoothie for a tangy twist
  • Healthy desserts: Create guilt-free desserts by mixing orange zest or segments into Greek yoghurt or cottage cheese

Agricultural practices

The way oranges are cultivated can have a significant impact on their nutritional composition. Opting for organic cultivation methods can substantially increase the vitamin C content in oranges when compared to those grown conventionally, which often involves the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.9 Hence, adopting environmentally friendly farming practices and ensuring nutrient-rich soil are crucial elements in optimising the vitamin C levels present in oranges.

Other sources of vitamin C

Sometimes, people do not enjoy the taste of oranges but still need that essential vitamin C boost; worry not because this vital nutrient can be found in a wide array of foods. It can be found in citrus fruits (for example, lemons, grapefruits, and limes) as well as in berries (strawberries, raspberries and blueberries ), which are rich sources of vitamin C, offering a zesty twist to your diet. If you prefer vegetables, bell peppers, broccoli and spinach are excellent choices to incorporate into your daily menu. These options not only offer a diverse range of flavours and textures but also ensure that you receive your daily dose of vitamin C, keeping your health in check.

FAQs

Q1: What are the main sources of Vitamin C?


A: Vitamin C, as we mentioned, is found in oranges (which are citrus fruits), strawberries,  kiwis and vegetables such as bell peppers, broccoli and spinach.

Q2: Can I get enough Vitamin C from my diet alone?


A: You can easily incorporate vitamin C into your diet through fruits and vegetables. In some cases, supplements may be taken, whether you’re feeling under the weather, and they are prescribed by your doctor, or you’re pregnant.

Q3: How can I maximise Vitamin C intake while cooking?


A: To retain as much vitamin C as possible, opt for gentle cooking methods like steaming or microwaving. Also, consider using orange zest, which is rich in vitamin C.

Q4: Are there any side effects of consuming too much Vitamin C?

A: While vitamin C is generally safe, excessive intake can lead to digestive issues like diarrhoea and stomach cramps.10 It’s essential to stay within the recommended daily limits and consult a healthcare professional if you’re considering high-dose supplements.

Summary

Vitamin C plays a pivotal role in oranges, serving as a vital nutrient essential for supporting our health and overall well-being. This multifaceted nutrient acts as an antioxidant and is necessary for a robust immune system. It also contributes significantly to collagen production and plays a crucial role during pregnancy for foetal development. To ensure an adequate intake of this essential vitamin, it’s essential to maintain a healthy and balanced diet rich in various fruits and vegetables. Implementing organic farming practices, proper storage of oranges and adopting mindful cooking methods can help maximise the vitamin C content in your diet, whether it’s for pregnancy or overall health.

References

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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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Zeina Al-Ait

Master's degree, Computer Software Engineering, Lebanese University - Faculty of Sciences

Zeina Al-Ait is a computer science graduate with expertise in health, particularly diabetes. She has authored several articles on this subject, emphasizing diabetes awareness and challenging conventional health perspectives. Zeina is currently pursuing studies in bioinformatics to expand her knowledge in the field.

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