Injured? Get clued up on Vitamin C.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), is a vitamin that you need a constant supply of. Being a water soluble vitamin, left over amounts not used by your body end up in the toilet water. It is therefore super important to maintain a fresh supply, especially when following an injury when your body is trying to repair ligaments, soft tissue or encourage other wound healing. The vitamin also comes with plenty of other benefits to athletes.
Vitamin C is the main one (supplement I take), especially when travelling… and the women’s multivitamin, well I actually eat the kid’s gummy!
– Lindsey Vonn on taking Vitamin C supplements
So why is Vitamin C important for ligament repair and wound healing?
- It facilitates the building of collagen, which forms the framework for repairing connective tissue
- It is an antioxidant, protecting our cells from free radicals by keeping chemical reactions throughout our body in check
- It helps with the maintenance of healthy connective tissue e.g. ligaments to support other tissues and organs
- It mitigates free-radical damage that increases after intense exercise, helping alleviate muscle soreness, helping speed up recovery
- It increases the amount of iron absorbed from food
Daily Vitamin C replenishment is critical during wound healing due to its ability to support the body in creating new connective tissues. The healing process increases the stress on our body and its metabolic needs. In the time immediately following an injury or surgery, your body will use up Vitamin C stores fast, potentially depleting them to very low levels. Without extra vitamin C being introduced into the diet following injury, the formation of new replacement connective tissue between cells is hindered slowing down wound healing (Dr. Rath Research Institute, July 28, 2008). Think of Vitamin C as the building block (collagen) needed to form the small tissues that you have injured. It is the juice that is going to get your upright and back on your feet.
Related article: Injures Suck: The best food & vitamins for ligament repair
How much Vitamin C is recommend following injury?
In a study by MacKay, Douglas, ND, and Miller, Alan L., ND in 2003, it is recommended to introduce 1-2 grams (1,000-2,000 mg) into your diet daily following injury for around 5 days, or until the healing is complete.
The recommended daily allowance is 90mg for men and 75mg daily for women (this increases if you smoke or are pregnant). Other clinical studies suggest the amount of vitamin C required for optimal health is at least 400 mg/day, with some practitioners recommending at least 1,000 mg of Vitamin C daily, even if not injured. It is worth checking in with a doctor or nutritionist following any serious injury before changing your diet too drastically.
N.B Large doses of Vitamin C (more than 2,000 mg daily) can have negative side effects such as nausea, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, headaches, fatigue and kidney stones. It may also interfere with your body’s ability to process (metabolise) other nutrients while ramping up your absorption of Iron . Always consult your doctor and get professional advice.
What are the best foods for Vitamin C?
The following foods are high in Vitamin C:
- Camu Camu – An Amazonian berry that contains approximately 460x more Vitamin C then an orange (incredible supplement to add to smoothies)
- Bell peppers or capsicums
- Brussel sprouts
- Kiwi fruit
- Cantaloupe melon
- Fresh and sun-dried tomatoes
Instead of vitamins, I have this giant shake twice a day, so it’s all fresh vegetables and fruits: a whole beet, a whole apple, two carrots, four strawberries, one cup of blueberries, two handfuls of red grapes, one whole lemon, one handful of spinach, one handful of kale, one-fourth handful of parsley, two stalks of celery, two tablespoons of hemp seeds, two tablespoons of chia seeds, one tablespoon of coconut oil, one chard leaf, no stem.
– UFC champion Ronda Rousey
Ideas to get more Vitamin C into your diet:
- Take a daily Vitamin C supplement such as Camu Camu. This Amazonian berry contains approximately 460x more Vitamin C then an orange
- Cook more stir-fry meals with fresh vegetables such as peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and fresh tomatoes
- Add fruits or vegetables high in Vitamin C to your smoothie
- Eat papaya in the morning with fresh lemon juice or lime squeezed on it
- Enjoy grapefruit for breakfast
- Add fresh lemon to your water each day
- Drink fresh orange juice that you have squeezed yourself (keep and drink the pulp)
- Snack on kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries or other fruits high in Vitamin C
Related article: Kelly Slater Diet: Nutrition & sustainable living