If you reach for the orange juice every time you start sniffling, chances are you’re not the only one. Micronutrients such as vitamin C are particularly important for the immune system cells involved in fighting viruses. But is it really the cure-all it’s made out to be?
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a powerful antioxidant which helps to protect the body from free radical damage, boost immunity, and plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissue in the human body. It also helps the body make collagen - an important protein used to make skin, tendons, cartilage and ligaments, as well as blood vessels.
Does vitamin C help treat cold and flu?
While studies show that consuming vitamin C doesn’t prevent cold and flu, increasing your intake can help shorten the length and severity of symptoms, explains Dr Sarah Brewer.
“High levels of vitamin C block the replication of viruses inside cells to lower the frequency and severity of the common cold. It also reduces the duration of herpes cold sores, while its antihistamine action is helpful against allergies,” she says.
How can I boost my intake of vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning you need to consume a consistent amount to make sure body has all that it needs. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and kiwi; leafy green vegetables such as kale and broccoli; red and green peppers, tomatoes, blueberries, Brussels sprouts and cherries are all good sources of vitamin C.
Here’s 3, easy recipes you can make at home to increase your vitamin C intake, from nutritionist Rob Hobson: