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The potential for Vitamin C

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Recent surveying in the UK reveals consumers may not understand as much about Vitamin C as we hope they would, and other benefits offer potential for product development in eye health.

Vitamin C is known as an ascorbic acid and has several important functions as well as supporting your immune system—it's closely associated with cold-fighting amongst consumers. It helps to protect cells and keep them healthy as well as maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage—it can even help with wound healing. It’s a great nutrient for vegetarians and vegans as it helps the body absorb iron from food sources such as beans.

FIGHT Vitamins, a UK-based consumer brand, conducted a nationwide survey that revealed 9% of Brits still believe Vitamin C can help you see in the dark. Despite this not being true, Vitamin C does support eye health as it supports the production of collagen which is really important for our eyes as it provides structure (the eye is made up of layers of connective tissue maintained by collagen) and protects them. A study from King's College London also showed that participants who had a higher intake of vitamin C were associated with a 33% risk reduction of cataract progression, and had clearer lenses after 10 years than those who consumed less vitamin C1.

There is potential for brands to focus on the antioxidant properties Vitamin C holds as it provides protection against oxidative stress-induced cellular damage—as long as a product’s benefit claims are supported by studies and in the results, then it is possible to market it in multiple ways.

When differentiating Vitamin C products or combining with other ingredients, it's key is to ensure that the dosage is correct and the ingredients are proven to support the body in whichever way the buyer needs—especially when creating blended finished products that contain multiple nutrients such as Vitamin B6, B12, D and Zinc used in combination with Vitamin C as an immunity supplement. 

Consumers are familiar with Vitamin C—people know its good for them and will often think they know how best to get it in their diet however there is still a lot of education to be done. In a recent study by FIGHT Vitamins, 44% of Brits thought that oranges were the highest source of Vitamin C when up against common fruit and veg such as broccoli, peppers and pineapple. However, it is actually the lowest source of Vitamin C. Higher sources of Vitamin C can actually be found in kale, kiwis, brussel sprouts, mango, pineapple, broccoli and peppers, but being water soluble is best consumed raw or steamed to preserve VItamin to preserve the Vitamin C content.

Jane Barracato is registered dietitian and head of global medical science, Vitamin Mineral Supplements at Reckitt Benckiser

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