When it comes to maintaining overall good health, especially during cold and flu season, make sure to reach for citrus as part of your daily diet. Citrus is a tasty source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant that the body uses in many ways to keep all systems running smoothly. Vitamin C in moderate amounts helps keep teeth, gums, bones and blood vessels healthy, and in that sense, helps fight infection.
- Proof Lacking About Mega Doses of Vitamin C and Colds
Back in the 1970s, Chemistry and Peace Nobel laureate Linus Pauling touted daily mega doses of vitamin C (the amount in 12 to 24 oranges) as a way to prevent colds and some chronic diseases. These initial claims have not been supported by clinical studies. A review of data from 30 placebo-controlled prevention trials found that vitamin C in doses of 200mg or more per day did not reduce the number of colds, but the length of the cold was slightly reduced (by 8% in adults and 14% in children). The only sub-groups that seemed to benefit from the large doses of vitamin C were athletes who exercised heavily, and those in extremely cold climates.
How Much Vitamin C Should You Consume?
According to the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference Intakes, adult (19 years and older) females should have 75mg, and males should have 90mg per day of vitamin C in their diet. Pregnant women need 85mg per day; lactating women require 120mg per day. If you smoke, you will require 35mg per day more than is needed by nonsmokers. The maximum level of daily vitamin C that adults should consume is 2000mg per day. If you exceed this amount, you put yourself at risk of an upset stomach, kidney stones and absorbing too much iron. Three to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day (about 2½ cups, providing about 200mg of vitamin C), will more than meet your daily requirement for this important nutrient. For example, a medium orange has 70mg of vitamin C. Other sources of vitamin C, besides citrus, include strawberries, sweet red peppers, broccoli and potatoes.
Orange and grapefruit slices or juices taste great as part of a main course, salad, dessert or snack. Lemon and lime juices give that extra zing to so many dishes and beverages. The fact that these yummy fruits and flavors provide nutritional benefits during cold and flu season, as well as all year-round, is certainly a plus for all of us citrus lovers!