Vitamin C: Reason why it is great for your health

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Data from NHS digital shows cases of the illness, which was very common in Victorian Britain, rising from 82 in 2010 to 2011 to 171 in 2020 to 2021. Scurvy comes from a lack of vitamin C in the body and while still uncommon throughout the UK, it can cause debilitating symptoms.

According to the new NHS data, scurvy is most common in the over-60s but there was also a rise in children needing care.

Scurvy can lead to fatigue, irritability, joint pain, swollen and bleeding gums and skin which bruises easily.

The condition killed millions of sailors from the 14th to 19th centuries – and while it’s not widespread in this day and age, it can cause potentially fatal infections if left untreated.

Adults aged 19 to 64 need 40mg of vitamin C a day – and this can come from a balanced diet with no need for supplements.

Vitamin C is found in fruit and vegetables, in particular citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons.

It can also be found in peppers, strawberries, broccoli and potatoes.

The Labour Party Shadow Health Secretary blames the Conservative Government for the rise in scurvy cases.

Jonathan Ashworth said: “This is a shameful indictment on a decade of the Tories.

“Poverty is driving greater illness and illness also often traps people in poverty.

“The Government’s promises to ‘level up’ are exposed as utterly hollow.

“While deprivation worsens, the Tories refuse to tackle hunger in society.”

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How can I get more vitamin C?

Your body doesn’t make or store vitamin C as it does with other vital nutrients – so you need to make sure you get enough of it day-by-day to keep your levels high enough to avoid conditions like scurvy.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from a balanced diet full of fruit and vegetables – but there are ways you can boost your intake.

Eating your fruit and vegetables raw will help boost your intake, as cooking vegetables can strip food of its vital nutrients.

Cooking vegetables in water significantly decreases the amount of vitamin C in it, as it is a water-soluble vitamin.

Eating more fermented vegetables can also up the amount of vital vitamin C you get.

One serving of kimchi will provide around half of your daily intake – and to boot, fermented foods contain gut strengthening probiotics.

To become ill with scurvy, your levels need to be low consistently for a while, so avoiding the disease can easily be done if you have access to fresh, healthy foods.

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