People’s Pharmacy: Foods besides orange juice have vitamin C – Winston-Salem Journal

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Q: A few weeks ago, a reader wrote about not being able to tolerate citrus fruit and wondered about vitamin C deficiency. You answered the question regarding supplements, but you never once mentioned whole foods that have plentiful vitamin C. In some cases, they have even more than citrus.

Most nutritionists recommend that healthy individuals get their vitamins and minerals from whole foods and skip the supplements. Some, like vitamin B12 or vitamin D, could be hard to get from the diet, but most supplements are unnecessary.

I’m not suggesting one shouldn’t take synthetic vitamins. But I think that most vitamin pills can’t compare to obtaining nutrients from whole foods in which vitamins and other phytonutrients work synergistically. Perhaps vitamin C in a tomato works with lycopene to be effective.

Here are some examples of noncitrus whole foods that have a significant amount of vitamin C (based on a half-cup serving unless noted):

Red bell pepper, 95 mg.

Kiwifruit (medium), 64 mg.

Green bell pepper, 60 mg.

Broccoli, 51 mg.

Strawberries, 49 mg.

Brussel sprouts, 48 mg.

Kale, 40 mg.

Tomato juice (3/4 cup), 33 mg.

I could go on, but that is enough to give you the idea.

Answer: Thank you for making the point that it is possible to get the recommended daily amount of vitamin C from food, even without consuming orange or grapefruit juice. The RDA for adult men is 90 mg per day and for women is 75 mg per day.

We are in favor of including plenty of nutrient-dense foods like bell peppers and broccoli in your diet. However, people may need supplements sometimes. The best resource we know to determine where your diet might be wanting and how much vitamin or mineral you should take is the book by Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, “Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More.” Your local library should have a copy. We also offer a paperback edition in the Books section of the store at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: You’ve written recently about lowering cholesterol. About 15 years ago, a friend of mine conducted an experiment for his doctor. He started taking 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon daily. After 90 days, his cholesterol levels were lowered to normal.

My own numbers were sky-high 40 years ago when my parents died. Our high cholesterol is hereditary. Various medications, including niacin and statins, resulted in bad consequences.

For many years now, I have relied on diet. My cholesterol numbers are not low enough, but I have not had a heart attack although I am nearly 83. I eat a lot of wild salmon and avoid processed foods. I also consume at least 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in oatmeal or an anti-inflammatory shake daily.

Answer: Thank you for sharing your story. A recent meta-analysis considered cinnamon for lowering blood lipids like cholesterol in people with Type 2 diabetes (Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Sept. 29, 2020). The researchers analyzed 16 studies with more than 1,000 participants and found that cinnamon supplementation reduced triglycerides, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. In a study of women with polycystic ovary syndrome, cinnamon lowered blood sugar and insulin as well as cholesterol (Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2018).

One word of caution: Cassia cinnamon, which is the most commonly used spice, may contain coumarin. This natural compound can harm the liver in high doses.

Questions for Joe and Teresa Graedon can be emailed via their website: www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.

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