Nutrition & Diet Coach

Peggy Korody North San Diego Registered Dietitian

The Orange and Vitamin C…

Written By: Peggy Korody - Jan• 22•11

Peggy Korody RD The Orange and Vitamin CThis is the peak season for oranges, so here are a few reasons to pick some up at the market next time you go shopping.

Most people know that oranges are packed with vitamin C, and most people believe that vitamin C prevents or treats the common cold. Unfortunately, most scientific studies show that Vitamin C does not help the common cold. So, should you stop eating oranges and foods rich in vitamin C? Of course not!
Let’s start with a little “vitamin C 101”. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means it dissolves in water and leftover amounts leave your body via urine. Vitamin C is not stored for later use, and your body cannot produce this vitamin on its own, so you need to include foods that are rich in vitamin C in your daily diet.

If vitamin C doesn’t prevent the common cold, then why do we need vitamin C?

This vitamin is required for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of our bodies. It is needed to form collagen, which is used to make skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps with the healing of wounds, repair and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.

So should you take a pill, drink some juice, or eat an orange?

My number one choice would be to eat an orange. Just one orange provides 130% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C. But that’s not all; you get other significant nutrients such as, folate (9.9% of DV), potassium (6.8%), thiamin (7.3%), vitamin A (5.4%) and calcium (5.2%), all for only 80 calories in a medium-size orange. Then there is the fiber (12.5% DV), which makes this a “quality” carbohydrate, because the fiber is important for releasing energy slowly. This helps prevent spikes in your blood glucose levels.

My second choice would be to drink a glass of juice, although this only contains half a gram of dietary fiber (a medium orange contains 3 grams). A glass of orange juice will also contain 110 calories per cup, which are more calories than eating an orange. Also, juice does not make you feel full, whereas an orange can suppress hunger for hours. Have you shopped in the orange juice isle lately? It’s difficult to decide just what version of orange juice to buy with so many labels and so many choices. For example, the “Healthy Heart” juice contains 50 milligrams of Omega-3. Is that a good thing? A three-ounce portion of salmon contains 1,700 milligrams of Omega-3 and may be a better choice if you are looking to increase your omega-3 intake. Some versions of orange juice contain added vitamin D and calcium in quantities comparable to what you get from drinking a class of milk. If you are not a milk drinker, this may be a good choice. The “light” juices contain 60% water and stevia sweetening. If you go that route, why not buy the regular juice and water it down on your own? You would save money.

Regarding vitamin C supplements, why take a pill when there are so many other choices? Vitamin C is found in oranges, green peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, turnip greens and other leafy greens, sweet and white potatoes, and cantaloupe to name a few. So why take a pill? With these natural sources, you get low calorie food and fiber, plus some beneficial natural antioxidants.

So does it really matter if vitamin C fights the common cold when there are so many other benefits from eating foods containing vitamin C?

Remember, it’s important to eat a balanced and varied diet on a daily basis in order to obtain all the nutrients our body needs. Next time you go grocery shopping, pick up some oranges and enjoy!

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