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Eye Healthy Foods – Vitamin C Nutrition & Supplementation

Vitamin C is water soluble and can only be absorbed through diet and/or supplementation

The next post in my series on eye healthy foods revolves around vitamin C. 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. Simply put, if you don’t get your vitamin C from food or those chewable tablets we all love, you won’t get it at all.

Just like many of us, I was introduced to vitamin C as a child. Out of all the vitamins I was given, it was by far the easiest to consume. As a result, a positive association was made in my mind, and I enjoy taking vitamin C even to this day. Too bad I can’t say the same about 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. On top of that, vitamin C assists with the growth and/or repair of tissue (muscle, nerve, connective, and epithelial) all over the body. It also plays a rather 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 and 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 important to note that too much vitamin C may not be a good thing. Chronic 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 leads to 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 also an option. I personally recommend food-based supplements because the body better absorbs nutrients derived from fruits and vegetables.

If you can’t find the right food-based supplement, you can try Emergen-C (ascorbic acid based). This handy boost of energy is a drinkable powder that helps fight the common cold.

Be on the lookout for my next post. In it, I’ll be giving out a “high in vitamin C” recipe.