According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C or also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble nutrient found in some foods. It acts as an antioxidant in the body that fights off the presence of free radicals. Environmental sources of free radicals include exposure to cigarette smoke, UV rays from the sun, and air pollution.
Importance of vitamin C
In a study conducted by Oregon State University, it states that vitamin C helps hasten the healing process of wounds as it increases collagen synthesis and decreases inflammatory responses at the site of the wound. Vitamin C is also said to shorten the duration of the common cold for people who regularly take it. Those who also have adequate amounts of vitamin C in their diet also suffer somewhat milder symptoms whenever they have colds. While most people may prefer taking multivitamins, others may opt for specific vitamins with a combination of vitamin C and zinc. According to Livestrong, adult women need 8 milligrams of zinc a day while adult men need 11 milligrams. Both vitamin C and zinc are said to aid wound healing, healthy hair, and a stronger immune system. Some research also suggests that high intakes of vitamin C sourced from fruits and vegetables may also lower the risk of many types of cancers such as breast, colon, and lung cancer.
Sources of vitamin C
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C, specifically the following:
- Citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit
- Red and green pepper
- Other food items fortified with vitamin C
Breastmilk and infant formula contain an average amount of vitamin C compared to cow’s milk which is not recommended for infants 1-year-old and below. If you feel like your child is not getting enough vitamin C from his/her diet or if they are under a special meal plan, consult your family doctor about taking supplements to boost their vitamin C levels.
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C for children may vary depending on their age. Always consult a medical professional first before administering any kind of drug, including vitamins. See the suggested dosage from the NIH below:
- Birth to 6 months - 40 mg
- Infants 7-12 months - 50 mg
- Children 1-3 years - 15 mg
- Children 4-8 years - 25 mg
- Children 9-13 years - 45 mg
- Teens 14-18 years (boys) - 75 mg
- Teens 14-18 years (girls) - 65 mg
People who smoke or who are exposed to secondhand smoke on a regular basis need a higher dosage (35 mg more than the RDA) of vitamin C intake because their bodies need more of it to heal the damage dealt by free radicals.
Vitamin C deficiency
Scurvy is a rare case of severe vitamin C deficiency which usually occurs when you haven’t had enough Vitamin C in your diet for at least three months. As mentioned, your body isn’t capable of producing vitamin C on its own, so you mainly rely on food sources and supplements. Fad diets, smoking, and poor food intake can lead to scurvy so monitor your meals and stick to a well-balanced diet. Children who are picky eaters can be at risk of vitamin C deficiency—ask your pediatrician about the right kind of multivitamins that’s best for your child’s needs.