C the Light

C the Light

Does the arrival of June have you reaching for the vitamin bottle? You’re not alone. The vitamin and supplement industry is worth an estimated $1.5 billion annually in Australia alone, which means a fair percentage of us are hoping a regular dose of echinacea or vitamin C will help ward off the winter sniffles.

But while vitamin C has long been touted as a key ingredient in the fight against the common cold, in reality it’s probably not as effective as your coworker claims. According to the US National Institute of Health, research shows that for most people, vitamin C supplements or vitamin C-rich foods do not reduce the risk of catching a cold, or do much to alleviate the discomfort once you have one (though a regular intake may help shorten the symptoms).

That’s not to say you don’t need vitamin C, though – it’s still a powerful antioxidant required by the body to make and repair muscles, tissues, tendons, bones, cartilage and teeth. The body can’t make vitamin C on its own, but rather than paying a fortune for supplements (which often contain sugar and preservatives) you can get a good daily dose the way nature intended. Raw fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, with citrus fruits, berries, mango, pineapple, tomato, white and sweet potatoes, broccoli, brussels sprouts and leafy greens the top choices. If you are unable to get enough vitamin C from fresh food (around 75mg a day for adult women and 90mg for men) then opt for a sugar-free supplement and don’t overdo it – the body can’t store excess C, so you’ll be flushing your expensive vitamins down the toilet…literally.