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Vitamin C and Immune Health
Author: Amber Lotspeich Mills, MS, RD/LD
As we navigate through the uncharted territory of COVID-19, many people want to do everything they can to prevent themselves and their families from contracting the virus. Other than social-distancing, lifestyle can play a big role in prevention. Moreover, lifestyle is something you have control over! Let's talk about how we can build and maintain a healthy immune system.
There are lots of things we can do to help keep our immune system strong:
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses against disease. While it's not a magic bullet, Vitamin C helps your immune system work optimally. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in water, as opposed to fat, like fat-soluble vitamins. Also, water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body so what your body does not need gets excreted through urine. Since your body does not store Vitamin C, or produce it on its own, it’s important to consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C on a daily basis. On the other hand, we do not want to supplement with mega-doses of Vitamin C for long periods of time as it can lead to negative effects such as digestive distress and kidney stones. It is important to note that it is usually unnecessary for people to take Vitamin C supplements, as you can easily get enough by eating fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. The recommended daily intake is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. There are several food sources that can help meet your daily intake.
Top Vitamin C Sources:
You can eat most of these foods as a snack or just include them with your meal, but be sure to eat at least one of these foods every day. While there is no guarantee that intake of vitamin C or any vitamin or supplement will prevent disease, there are many small things we can do to help build and maintain a healthy immune system during this stressful time.
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