Help Shoppers Stay Healthy Back-to-School

August 25, 2016

Vitamin C is believed to help during a cold primarily because it is necessary inside our white blood cells, who's function it is to “devour” invaders.

School is back in full swing, and unfortunately that means cold and flu season is just around the corner, as well as fall allergens like ragweed pollen and others. Helping your shoppers build a strong immune system is one of the best defenses against seasonal allergies and colds and flus, and can be done by picking up a few vitamin C rich foods in the produce department. Vitamin C is believed to do wonders in improving the immune system and keeping colds and flus at bay. 

Vitamin C is water soluble, therefore easily excreted from the body when consumed in excess. It’s critical for the metabolism of living creatures; surprisingly almost all mammals use their own cells to make it, except for humans, guinea pigs, gorillas, bats, chimps, and birds, who need to eat foods with this essential vitamin. 

Vitamin C is believed to help during a cold primarily because it is necessary inside our white blood cells, who's function it is to “devour” invaders. Research suggests that supplementing with vitamin C may help to enhance the white blood cell activity and mobilization. When our bodies are functioning optimally, white blood cells contain high concentrations of vitamin C, during infection these levels decrease, and then return to normal after recovery. High doses of vitamin C may be able to restore levels to normal during an infection. In relation to allergies, vitamin C is reported to reduce blood histamine levels, an “antihistamine” effect, which may help to alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies. Histamines are released in the body in response to allergic invaders and contribute to the inflammatory response and constriction of smooth muscle (as in asthma); therefore natural “antihistamines,” like vitamin C, would help to reduce this response. 

And there’s more! The protective role of vitamin C is vast; cardiovascular diseases, cancers, joint diseases, and cataracts are all associated with low levels of vitamin C intake. Vitamin C achieves much of its protective effect by functioning as an antioxidant, mopping up free radicals. Structures that contain fat are also particularly dependent on vitamin C for protection.

Direct your shoppers to produce for vitamin C rich foods!

The richest sources of vitamin C are sweet peppers, black currants, broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, and turnip greens. Vitamin C is heat sensitive so the longer veggies are cooked, the more the vitamin decreases; raw, fresh vegetables contain the most. The faster the cooking method the better!

Other prime sources for vitamin C include papayas and mangoes, pineapple, strawberries, citrus fruits, kiwi, cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. From the veggie selection, choose okra, squash, cabbage, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, peas, sweet potatoes, and asparagus.

If you have an in store dietitian, even better. Have your shoppers speak with the RD about best picks for immune health.