Ian Marber: The lowdown on vitamin C

Ian Marber: The lowdown on vitamin C
Blog Author: Ian Marber

When I was a teenager, all those years ago, vitamin C was the nutrient that one heard about most. And indeed, any time someone had a cold it was orange juice that was suggested as a cure. Of course, while the link between nutrition and the common cold isn’t quite so clear cut, vitamin C does play an important part in maintaining a healthy immune system. 

What role does Vitamin C play?

Vitamin C has many other roles, including acting as an antioxidant, maintaining the normal functioning of the nervous system and energy production. Vitamin C also plays a vital part in collagen synthesis so it’s required for the formation and maintenance of skin, teeth, gums, bone and blood vessels.

One of the primary roles of vitamin C is its effect on the absorption of dietary iron. However, iron absorption of non-haem iron, found in plant-based sources, is relatively low compared to iron from animal sources, which contain both haem and non-haem versions of iron.

This is where vitamin C comes into play – it enhances overall absorption by facilitating a change in non-haem iron into a more easily absorbed version. It also forms a soluble complex with iron, protecting it from oxidation and preventing the formation of insoluble compounds that hinder absorption.

Vitamin C is water soluble and can’t be stored in the body, so we need to ensure that we eat vitamin C-rich foods daily. You can find vitamin C in all fruits and vegetables, although it’s especially rich in cherries, berries, citrus fruit, melon, peppers, sweet potato, kiwi, cauliflower, kale and broccoli.

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About the author:

Ian Marber

Ian Marber’s interest in food and nutrition was piqued when diagnosed with coeliac disease in his late twenties. He soon after gave up a successful career in investment to study nutrition at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, graduating in 1999 and founding the now-globally recognised nutritional consultancy, The Food Doctor.

Departing the Food Doctor in 2012, Ian now advises individuals and industry alike. He has since worked with over 8,000 clients, leads seminars, workshops and lectures and works closely with brands such as Innocent Drinks to formulate new ranges. His expertise has lead him to be recognised as go-to contributor within the press, writing regularly in The Times, The Spectator and The Telegraph, as well as making regular appearances on both TV and radio.