The winter season is upon us and therefore, you’re likely in overdrive as you gear back into routine after the holiday season. But if you’re navigating a hectic schedule while temperatures drop outdoors, then you may increase your risk of the common cold.
Vitamin C is a nutrient often touted for its benefits in immune support. However, it must be supplied through our diet since the human body is not able to create nor store this vitamin on its own.
The benefits of vitamin C go beyond reducing your sniffles. Vitamin C strengthens collagen, which is a major component to skin health and tissue healing. For dancers specifically, vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant, preventing cellular stress and damage; especially important for dancers, as muscles are constantly engaged and strained.
With so much to give, vitamin C is commonly a supplement-of-choice for many dancers. However, when taken throughout the cold season, vitamin C supplements may only modestly reduce symptoms of colds. There is no solid evidence supporting the use of Vitamin C supplements to prevent colds.
The good news? Unlike supplements, food is never debated. Increasing your intake of foods high in Vitamin C can help support your immune system. To keep you feeling your best, let’s discuss 3 tips for incorporating more Vitamin C into your day:
#1: Add citrus to marinades, dressings, and sauces
Foods high in vitamin C include most fresh fruits and veggies, especially citrus fruits. Luckily, citrus is in season during the winter months making grapefruit, clementines, lemons, and limes easily accessible, affordable, and delicious. Keep a bowl of these on your kitchen counter to snack on or to utilize when cooking. Kiwifruit, mangos, and plums are a few other Vitamin C containing-fruits to add to your meals.
TTPTip: Mix in a splash of lemon with tahini or olive oil and top roasted vegetables or salad to add extra flavor and vitamin C.
#2: Bump Up The Fresh Produce
Vitamin C is both water soluble and sensitive to heat. Boiling veggies can cause as much as a 50% reduction in a food’s vitamin C content. If choosing to cook your veggies, then choose dry-heat cooking methods such as baking and roasting. Also, the vitamin C content in many fruits and vegetables begins to decrease with long storage times. Aim to enjoy your produce within 3 to 4 days of purchasing to maximize your intake.
TTPTip: Kiwi, berries, tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, and broccoli are wonderful sources of Vitamin C that can be eaten fresh or prepared in salads.
#3: Experiment with Fermented Foods
If you find yourself becoming bored with vegetables, then add fermented foods such as kimchi and sauerkraut into your meals. These two products are made from cabbage, a naturally rich source of vitamin C and fiber! An added bonus? Fermented foods will boost your intake of naturally-occurring probiotics. Probiotics are the healthy organisms (think of them as friendly bacteria) living along our digestive tract. Emergent research associates our gut bacteria with their role in immunity.
Article written with the help from Kylie Mignone. Expert reviewed by Rachel Fine.
- Vitamin C — Fact sheet for health professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- How Vitamin C Supports a Healthy Immune System. (March 22, 2019). Marisa Moore. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. https://www.eatright.org/food/vitamins-and-supplements/types-of-vitamins-and-nutrients/how-vitamin-c-supports-a-healthy-immune-system. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
- Taghiyar, M., Ghiasvand, R., Askari, G., Feizi, A., Hariri, M., Mashhadi, N. S., & Darvishi, L. (2013). The effect of vitamins C and E supplementation on muscle damage, performance, and body composition in athlete women: a clinical trial. International journal of preventive medicine, 4(Suppl 1), S24–S30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665021/. Accessed Dec. 123, 2019.