Vitamin C & zinc benefits

Updated July 20, 2017

Vitamin C and zinc can be said to work synergistically in your body, as these nutrients function in some of the same processes. For example, both vitamin C and zinc are important for wound healing and function as antioxidants. Vitamin C and zinc are also important for proper immune system function. Despite the similar roles of vitamin C and zinc, their food sources are quite different with vitamin C being found mainly in fruits and vegetables, while zinc is found in meat, seafood, and dairy products. This underscores the vital importance of eating a varied diet as no one food or food group can provide all the necessary nutrients for optimum health.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals to prevent damage to body cells. Additionally, vitamin C is needed for the formation of collagen, which makes up the bones, teeth, blood vessels, muscles, and connective tissue throughout the body. Because of vitamin C's roles in collagen formation, it is absolutely essential for wound healing. In addition to its structural role, vitamin C is also needed for the production of the neurotransmitter, norepinephrine. Vitamin C may also help to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Vitamin C Food Sources

The daily requirement for vitamin C for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University recommends a higher daily intake of 400 mg for maximum benefit. The best food sources of vitamin C are vegetables, fruits, and fruit juices. Leafy green vegetables, like broccoli, kale, and cabbage, are all excellent sources of vitamin C. Other vegetables like red and green bell peppers, cauliflower, and peas also provide high doses of vitamin C. Fruits, such as oranges, kiwis, and strawberries, are also good sources of vitamin C.

Benefits of Zinc

According to a February 2011 article on Reuters Health, taking zinc supplements within 24 hours of the onset of a cold may reduce the length of the cold by one day as well as decrease the severity of cold symptoms. Zinc, with its role in immune function, also has antioxidant functions and may help to prevent age-related macular degeneration.

Zinc Food Sources

The daily requirement for zinc for adults is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. The best source of zinc is oysters, boasting 76 mg in only six oysters. This is almost seven times than daily requirement for men and nearly 10 times the daily requirement for women. Other good food sources of zinc are crab, beef, pork, chicken, and turkey, with dark meat providing more zinc than white meat. Nuts, dairy products, and beans are also good sources of zinc.

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About the Author

Margaret Wertheim is a Chicago-based registered dietitian and nutritionist with a master's degree in nutrition from Bastyr University and a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She serves as an editor of Nutrition in Chicago, the newsletter of the Chicago Dietetic Association, and maintains her own food and nutrition blog.