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  • Eating a colourful diet is the best way to get Vitamin C

    Author: AAP

The importance of Vitamin C has been thrown back into the spotlight with new research linking a deficiency to blood cancer.

For decades it's been widely known that eating fresh fruit and vegetables is essential to prevent scurvy, a disease caused by a lack of Vitamin C.

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A mouse study published in journal Nature has now linked deficiency in Vitamin C to blood cancer, pushing the nutrient back into the spotlight.

While true vitamin C deficiency is "exceedingly rare" in developed nations such as Australia, the study highlight the importance of a healthy balanced diet, says Associate Professor Steven Lane at QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

"There is no suggestion from this article that supplementing chemotherapy or other treatments with vitamin C has any beneficial effect to individual patients with leukaemia," said Prof Lane.


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"Rather, this work reinforces the general advice that a healthy, balanced diet containing the recommended intake of essential minerals and vitamins is the best way to keep your body functioning normally, and to recover after life changing diseases such as cancer," he said.

The human body does not make its own Vitamin C as opposed to most mammals and must be consumed through diet.

Late last year, poor diets was blamed for a scurvy "comeback" in Australia.

Professor Jenny Gunton at Sydney's Westmead Hospsital revealed several of her diabetes patients had been diagnosed with scurvy.

Lisa Donaldson - spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia - says daily consumption of Vitamin C is very important.

"The body won't store or hold on to excess Vitamin C, won't save it for later and the body will just wee it out," Ms Donaldson explained.

Apart from its potential anti-cancer properties, Vitamin C is a "powerful" antioxidant and has many other health benefits because, the accredited dietitian says.

"It helps with the healing of cuts and wounds, it also keeps your gums, teeth and bones quite healthy, and does help with the formation of collagen (in the skin)," said Ms Donaldson.

And an orange is not the only way to boost intake.

"There are a heap of other foods that are actually a lot higher in Vitamin C, foods like red capsicum, broccoli, chinese cabbage, brussels sprouts and cauliflower," says Ms Donaldson.

"Those vegetables have higher concentration per 100 grams than oranges," she said.

Eating a colourful diet is the best way to ensure the diet has plenty of Vitamin C, the expert advises.

"I often talk to my patients about having a rainbow on my plate," she said.

"Opting for fruits and vegetables as snacks is an easy way to boost intake, adding things like strawberries to your yoghurt or capsicum to a salad."


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