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Children and Vitamin C

written by: Diana Cooper • edited by: BStone • updated: 3/15/2011

Learn about vitamin C for children. Know why it is important for them and how much they need to meet daily requirements. Know what foods are excellent sources and find three simple smoothie recipes that are high in vitamin C.

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    Child Eating an Orange (excellent food source of vitamin C) A nutritious and well-balanced diet is especially important for a growing child. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant with many valuable functions. Below we will discuss vitamin C for children, including functions and benefits, recommended dosages and food sources.

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    Functions and Benefits

    The body does not make vitamin C, nor does it store it. Therefore, this essential nutrient must be included in the daily diet.

    Vitamin C is necessary for the production and maintenance of collagen, a protein substance that forms the base for all connective tissues in the body, including the skin, bones, teeth and tendons. Collagen is also the scar tissue that heals cuts and scrapes, the supporting material of capillaries that prevents bruises and the reinforcing structure that mends fractures.

    Vitamin C is necessary in promoting the absorption of iron, a mineral needed to transport oxygen to all cells in the body. This vitamin is also important to the production of thyroxin, a hormone that regulates body temperature and basal metabolic rate (a measure of calories burned while at rest).

    Vitamin C plays an important role in the immune system. It enhances white blood cell response and function, and increases interferon, a protein that fights viral infections. It also improves the integrity of the linings of mucous membranes. Many studies have shown that people who took vitamin C had a decrease either in duration or in severity of symptoms from the common cold. Adequate amounts of this vitamin can also help in the prevention of asthma in children.

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    Dosage

    The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine recommends the following amounts of vitamin C for children:

    • 1 to 3 years: 15 mg/day
    • 4 to 8 years: 25 mg/day
    • 9 to 13 years: 45 mg/day

    Vitamin C toxicity is very rare because the body does not store it. However, high doses from supplements should be avoided.

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    Food sources

    Excellent food sources of vitamin C include oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, kiwi, raspberries, watermelon, pineapple, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bell peppers, turnip and mustard greens, kale, spinach, chard, parsley, celery, zucchini and asparagus.

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    Smoothie Recipes

    Vitamin C Smoothie courtesy of Smoothie Web:

    • Blend 1 cup of low-fat plain yogurt, 3 cups of watermelon, 1 cup of cantaloupe, 1/2 cup of strawberries and 2 cups of ice.

    Irish Banana Split courtesy of Got Greens?:

    • Blend 2 cups of packed spinach, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 1/2 cup of frozen strawberries, 2 frozen ripe bananas (good source of vitamin C) and about 2 cups of water to desired consistency.

    Summer Splendor Smoothie courtesy of Raw Family:

    • Blend 4 leaves of chard (stems removed), 3 stalks of celery, 1 head of fresh parsley, 6 apricots, 3 peaches and 1/2 vanilla bean. (Apricots and peaches are very good sources of vitamin C for children.)

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    References

    Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)

    Medline Plus: Vitamin C - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002404.htm

    WHFoods: Vitamin C - http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=109

    Photo by tourist_on_earth / Flickr

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    Disclaimer

    Please read this disclaimer regarding the information contained within this article.