When we think of vitamin C, our brain automatically conjures up the image of an orange. This connection is largely due to one of the earliest recorded scientific experiments - but there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that provide a lot more vitamin C than oranges.
In the 1700s, scurvy was a huge problem for the British navy; it often prevented otherwise healthy sailors from doing their jobs. Dr. Robert Lind connected these symptoms with nutrition and set up an experiment to isolate what dietary essentials his men were missing.
He gave a range of solutions — including vinegar, barley water and citrus fruits — to different groups and, while most of the sailors became even iller, those who ate citrus fruits made a full recovery in just six days. It turned out, the men were deficient in vitamin C.
As well as helping cure scurvy, vitamin C helps us absorb iron; reduces fatigue by helping to produce carnitine, which burns fat more efficiently; synthesises collagen (an amino acid vital for building muscle, bone and hair) and hormones (that help to control all our body’s major functions); and supports our immune systems. There is also some evidence to say that vitamin C helps us to manage our stress levels.
Today, while all citrus fruits are a great source of vitamin C, we tend to stick more closely to oranges. This may be because they are the most pleasant to eat. And that’s no bad thing since oranges have a heap of other health benefits too: they are thought to lower cholesterol levels, boost heart health and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
If aged between 19 and 60, the NHS recommends a vit hit of 40mg per day (and no more than
1000mg). Since we can’t make our own it’s important to get it from our diets. It’s worth knowing that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin so can be easily lost in cooking. Therefore, eating the foods below raw — or minimally cooked — is best.
While oranges are a great way to boost your intake of vitamin C, and certainly did that trick for Dr. Lind’s sailors, he would have been better off feeding them a host of other fruits and vegetables.