With cold and flu season around the corner, it’s important to strengthen your immune system and build up your resistance.  One of the most well-known ways to do this is by upping your intake of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that supports your immune system.  Antioxidants help to counteract the damage from free radicals in your body that can cause inflammation and lead to chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease  Studies have also shown that Vitamin C can prevent and even treat infections in the body.

As important as its antioxidant abilities are, Vitamin C is also necessary for normal growth and development.  It’s required to produce collagen which is a protein that provides structure to your bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage and teeth.  Collagen is also necessary for healing wounds and forming scar tissue and it can be thought of as the glue that holds our bodies together.

Vitamin C plays a role in brain health because it’s needed to make certain neurotransmitters, which are the signals that carry thoughts, feelings and commands throughout our brains and nervous systems.

Iron is also absorbed more easily into the intestine when Vitamin C is added, especially the iron found in plant foods.  Adding foods high in Vitamin C to iron-rich foods increases how much iron your body will absorb.

It’s important for you to consume Vitamin C every day because your body is not able to make it, nor does it store any significant amounts.  What you don’t use leaves your body through your urine.  There are many great food sources of Vitamin C and they are all plant foods.  The best ones include:

  • Papaya
  • Bell peppers, especially red ones
  • Citrus fruits
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts and Cauliflower
  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, cabbage and turnip greens
  • Tomatoes
  • Mango

Keep in mind that when you cook these foods or store them for a long time, much of the Vitamin C content will be lost, so eat them as fresh as possible and raw or lightly cooked.

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