Lack of vitamin C linked to rise
deficiency is a concern that often frequents our headlines. Usually, this
concern voices the importance of a diet rich in fruit and vegetables.
Dr. Sarah Brewer says: ‘The
latest National Diet and Nutrition Surveys (NDNS) show that only 27% of adults
aged 19-64 meet the 5-a-day recommendation for fruit and vegetables. This is worrying,
as fruit and veg are the main dietary source of vitamin C.'
A recent study by Sydney based medical
professor Jenny Gunton, whilst still enforcing the importance of eating five a
day, links vegetables to vitamin C from a different perspective. Overcooking
vegetables results in the destruction of contained vitamin C. By overcooking your greens, you may also be
eliminating their nutritional value.
Why is Vitamin C important?
Vitamin C is
responsible for the production of Collagen within the body. The production of
collagen, a protein found in many types of tissue such as bones and cartilage,
is reliant on a healthy reserve of Vitamin C. If the body is undersupplied when
it comes to the latter, tissue health suffers. Skin, blood vessels, bones,
cartilage; these are all examples of tissue that may break down without the
consistent replenishment of collagen.
Society is becoming increasingly
undernourished in terms of vitamin C consumption. Unfortunately, a lack of
nutrients lends itself to an increase in health problems. Scurvy, a disease
that manifests from a lack of vitamin C and is usually associated with old
maritime sailors, has recently seen an increase.
Dr. Sarah Brewer on Scurvy
severe lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy, a deficiency disease associated
with bleeding gums, poor wound healing, and fatigue. If not diagnosed and
treated, scurvy can prove fatal.
a result of poor intakes of fruit and vegetables, there is concern that scurvy
is becoming more prevalent. In the year up to April 2014, for example, it was
the primary or secondary cause of 94 hospital admissions. This is an increase
of 27% over the previous 5 years, a statistic that only includes diagnosed cases
severe enough to need hospital treatment.’
Why is Scurvy on the increase?
Dr. Hilary gives an insight as to why Scurvy
is on the rise:
unpalatable answer is that too many families are existing on junk food, such as
takeaways and microwave meals. In the UK, we consume less fruit and vegetables
than in other parts of Europe, and 3% less than we did in 2007. Even in people who are overweight, scurvy is
being increasingly diagnosed. Some eat no fruit or vegetables whatsoever,
whilst others consume vegetables but derive no benefit from the vitamins, due
to over cooking. Not only this, many buy fresh fruit and veg, but lose its
benefits as a result of long storage time.
other contributory factors. Excess alcohol consumption, chemotherapy,
inflammatory bowel disease, smoking, anorexia and low income. But avoiding
scurvy should be easy. There was an excuse in days gone by when fresh fruit and
veg was scarce and expensive. Today it is not.’
How can I avoid Scurvy?
Dr. Sarah Brewer says ‘Scurvy can be
prevented by vitamin-C
intakes. 10 mg a day is sufficient, although 20mg per day is needed for
adequate wound healing. For optimum immunity and health, however, the
recommended intake is 80mg.’
According to Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at
Healthspan, “Scurvy may be on the rise on Australia.
But, like the UK, cases are still rare and are more likely to occur during
illness, amongst very fussy eaters or those suffering with alcohol or substance
Hobson also points out that ‘some of
these cases are occurring amongst those following the popular carb-free way weight
loss diet, which makes a case for ensuring your diet is well balanced”.
How to get enough vitamin C from your diet
Rob Hobson, states, ‘The Reference Nutrient Intake for this nutrient is 40mg per day which
you can get from drinking one glass of orange juice. Eating five servings of fruit and vegetables per
day from either fresh, canned, frozen or dried will provide you with more than
enough vitamin C. Foods that are particularly rich in this nutrient
include citrus fruits, red peppers, dark green vegetables, kiwi and berries.’
Struggling to reach your five a day? A daily
supplement, such as Healthspan’s
Vitamin C sustained release tablets, can be used to maintain a healthy level of