Sure we all up our intake of vitamin C when we get the common cold, but its benefits aren’t just limited to controlling the sniffles. Vitamin C is a powerful, water-soluble antioxidant that is responsible for creating collagen, a protein used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels—so it’s an essential tool to ward off ageing.

Amazing ‘amla’: Make it a part of your winter diet.

Niraj Kumar, consultant, cardiology, Artemis Health Institute, Gurgaon, agrees on the benefits of this vitamin, “While the debate is still on about vitamin C’s role in clearing up arteries, over a long period of time intake of vitamin C in natural forms (fresh fruits and vegetables) is expected to help in reducing blockages."

In addition to these obvious benefits, Mumbai-based dietitian Suman Aggarwal suggests that vitamin C is helpful in boosting immunity, maintaining healthy gums, treating allergy-related conditions, such as asthma and eczema, and decreasing blood sugar in people with diabetes. She says, “While the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is 50-60mg per day, for a polluted city like Mumbai, one can safely have a dose of 250-500mg every day."

Because it’s water soluble, excess vitamin C leaves the body through urine, and needs to be replenished often.

If you think that citrus fruits are the best way to consume this vitamin, consider this: According to Cheenu Prashar, consultant dietitian, Max Healthcare, New Delhi, a bowl of strawberries can give 70-120mg of vitamin C, 1 cup of guava gives 377mg, 100g of amla (gooseberries) provides 600mg and 100g capsicum, 137mg. Compare this with a mere 83mg in a medium-sized orange and just 39mg of vitamin C in 100g of lemon juice.

A word of caution: Vitamin C is very sensitive to the environment, and all foods rich in this vitamin get oxidized on exposure to air. So eat fruits as soon as they are cut and consume juices immediately.

Vasudha Rai