Vitamin C is the next topic in my series on eye healthy foods. Also known as “the best tasting vitamin” (in my opinion), vitamin C is water-soluble (or dissolved by water) and can only be absorbed through diet and/or supplementation. To explain in simpler terms, if you don’t get your vitamin C from food or chewable tablets, you won’t get it at all.

Like many of us, I was introduced to vitamin C as a child. Out of all the vitamins I was encouraged to take, this was by far the easiest to ingest. As a result, a positive association was made in my mind and I enjoy taking vitamin C to this day. Too bad I can’t say the same about several other vitamins and supplements out there.

Benefits of Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is important to the body for several reasons. Most notably, it helps to make collagen, which is necessary for healthy skin, cartilage and blood vessels. It also assists with the growth and/or repair of tissue (muscle, nerve, connective and epithelial) all over the body. If that’s not enough, it also plays a large role in the healing of cuts and wounds.

Vitamin C in doctor recommended doses can also help prevent:

  • The common cold
  • Heart disease and hypertension
  • Kidney and liver disease
  • Certain types of cancer

According to the United States Food & Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, recommended doses of vitamin C are as follows:

  • Men over 18 years old – 90 milligrams per day
  • Women over 18 years old – 75 milligrams per day
  • Pregnant women over 18 – 85 milligrams per day
  • Breastfeeding women over 18 – 120 milligrams per day

It’s worth noting, too much vitamin C may not be a good thing. Chronic vitamin C toxicity can lead to diarrhea, fatigue, and dental erosion. On the other end of the spectrum, vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy, which is a disease that causes bruising, bleeding gums, muscle weakness, fatigue and rashes.

Vitamin C and the Eyes:

According to the American Optometric Association, “Numerous studies have linked vitamin C intake and decreased risk of cataracts. In one study, women taking vitamin C for 10 years or more experienced a 64 percent reduction in the risk of developing nuclear cataracts. Researchers estimate that by delaying the onset of cataracts for 10 years, half of cataract-related surgeries could be averted.”

Furthermore, the Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) showed, “people at high risk for the disease (age-related macular degeneration) who took 500 mg/day of vitamin C, along with beta-carotene, vitamin E and zinc supplementation, slowed the progression of advanced AMD by about 25 percent and visual acuity loss by 19 percent.”

Food Sources of Vitamin C:

As previously stated, vitamin C can only be obtained through diet and/or supplementation. This means you can only receive vitamin C from those tasty little tablets or the following food sources:

  • Bell peppers (especially the red ones)
  • Citrus fruits
  • Strawberries
  • Acerola cherry
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Camu camu powder

If you’re not getting enough vitamin C from food, supplementation is the next best choice. I personally recommend food-based supplements because the body better absorbs nutrients derived from fruits and vegetables.

Live in Your OcularPrime:

If you’re having trouble ingesting vitamin C, or you can’t find the right food-based supplement, give Emergen-C a try. This ascorbic acid based powder comes in small packets and can be mixed with water. If nothing else, it’s a handy boost of energy that tastes good and helps fight the common cold (among other things).