Vitamin C is regularly referenced in relation to immune support and function. While it’s certainly important in that regard – particularly in the winter months – vitamin C also plays a role in other important body function for athletes.
Vitamin C is an important micronutrient found naturally in fresh fruit and vegetables. The highest sources include red and green capsicum, broccoli, brussel sprouts, tomatoes, cabbage, citrus fruit (mainly oranges and lemons), kiwifruit, berries, guava, papaya and rock melon.
Micronutrients are required by the body in small amounts to assist with optimal growth, development and function.
In addition, vitamin C plays an essential role in maintaining an athlete’s health to support training and athletic performance.
Although vitamin C has been investigated thoroughly in the research in supplemental form, you can easily achieve your recommended daily intake (RDI) of 45mg through a varied dietary intake of fruit and vegetables. For example just two kiwifruits are enough to meet your daily requirement.
Here are four reasons to include adequate vitamin C in your diet:
1. It’s a potent antioxidant
Antioxidants like vitamin C play an important role in slowing down processes that cause cell damage in the body. One example is inflammation caused by training. For this reason, vitamin C can be beneficial in assisting with sports recovery and also supporting return from injury.
2. It supports the formation of collagen
Collagen is an abundant protein in your body and a major building block for bones, skin, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. You need to eat daily to help initiate the constant turnover and replenishment of collagen, and vitamin C assists with this process. Training puts stress on your body to achieve adaptations such as improved strength, power, endurance, agility or skill. Collagen can help support consistent training by either sustaining or rebuilding these important structures.
3. It supports a healthy immune system
Vitamin C contributes to immune defence by supporting various cellular functions of the immune system. The adaptive immune system remembers foreign pathogens and can respond to ward off sickness or infection more quickly a second time around to stay well longer.
4. It assists with the absorption of iron
Iron is another micronutrient the body needs to carry oxygen around the body, assist with brain function, synthesise DNA and support immunity (read more about iron here). Having vitamin C when you consume iron will help its absorption.