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vital vitamins – C

vital vitamins – C

By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

There is a lot of interest at the moment in Vitamin C due to its role in supporting a healthy immune system, but there is no evidence that Vitamin C reduces the risk of Coronavirus. As well as Vitamin C having a role in the normal functioning of the immune and nervous system it is an antioxidant that contributes to skin, blood vessel, bone, gum, tooth and cartilage health as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. The skin and gums are external barriers to infection so it’s important to look after them so they can protect you.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin (dissolves in water). Unlike most other animals, humans are unable to make vitamin C and it cannot be stored in the body, so foods containing it have to be eaten daily.

Vitamin C is probably the one vitamin everyone knows and if questioned where you can find it in food most would say oranges or orange juice. Yes? However it’s found in an array fruit and vegetables including peppers, watercress, green leafy vegetables, berries, mango, tomatoes and potatoes. A safe and effective amount of vitamin C is provided for most people by a healthy balanced diet which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables – a minimum of five portions per day. Smokers need more vitamin C than non-smokers.

A diet lacking in vitamin C over time could lead to low levels which could affect functions like wound healing. Not having enough vitamin C in your diet for at least 3 months could lead to scurvy, although this is rare in the UK.

Food comes as a package so supplements will never be able to replace how vitamins are present in a variety of whole food. There is no evidence that vitamin C supplements can prevent or treat viral infections. The confusion may come as there is some evidence that vitamin C may reduce how long you have, and how badly you suffer from a common cold if you take it at the right time. However COVID-19 is a completely different type of virus to the common cold and no such evidence exists for it. If you take in more vitamin C than you need it is passed out in the urine. However a very high intake (greater than 1000mg or 1g per day for adults) can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and increase the risk of kidney stones and should be avoided.

Vitamin C can be destroyed by heat and light and as it is water soluble it can be lost in cooking water. Storing food correctly and cooking food in certain ways such as microwaving or steaming or stir-frying and using cooking water in gravy, soups and sauces can help preserve vitamin C and prevent loss from exposure to air, heat or light and loss into water


Vitamin C helps increase iron absorption so adding some green leafy veg such as the kale and coriander to this Beluga Lentil Curry will help you to absorb the iron in the delicious Beluga lentils

Beluga Lentil Curry

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Also try these delicious vitamin C packed recipes:


Glorious Grain & Vegan Pesto Stuffed Peppers

Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains & Vegan Pesto Stuffed Peppers, Merchant Gourmet, Merchant Gourmet Glorious Grains, vegan recipe, vegan lunch, vegan dinner, plant based recipe, vegan recipe, peppers, stuffed pepper recipe, red peppers, yellow peppers, olives, veganuary, grain recipe, roasted peppers

Kale, Watercress, Mange Tout and Watercress Freekeh-zotto

Merchant Gourmet Freekeh


Squash, Feta & Orange Salad

Merchant gourmet glorious grains, quick salad, healthy salad, healthy lunch, glorious grains, wholegrain, orange salad, feta salad


Tomatoey French Lentil Huevos Rancheros

Merchant Gourmet Huevos Rancheros, breakfast recipe, brunch recipe, lentil recipe, lentil breakfast, lentil and tomato recipe, eggs, Merchant Gourmet tomatoey French Puy French lentils, avocado, mexican recipe, Mexican Breakfast, lentil breakfast, healthy lentil recipe, how to cook lentils, puy lentils


Red & White Quinoa Salad with Peppers, Sweet Potato and Mango

Merchant Gourmet Red & White Quinoa salad, quinoa salad, how to cook quinoa


By Sian Porter, Merchant Gourmet Consultant nutritionist, registered dietitian

Sian Porter Merchant Gourmet Nutritionist, merchant Gourmet, Nutritionist