Vitamin C supplementation is a very controversial topic. The literature is divided and even perusing the internet, you’ll quickly discover three predominant theories in terms of source, dosage and whether supplementing is warranted. I’ll simplify them for you:
Theory 1 (popular in the blogosphere):
“Ascorbic acid is synthetic, made from GMO’s and should be avoided at all cost. Only ‘natural’ vitamin C or ‘complex’ should be taken.”
Theory 2 (usually clinicians and researchers):
“Regardless of whether it’s derived from synthetic or natural sources, the active part of vitamin C is the same molecule and can be used safely in larger doses than current recommendations suggest. There are non-GMO products available.”
Theory 3 (spokespeople for industries selling patentable treatments):
“Supplementation has minimal benefit. The work of Dr’s Pauling, Hickey, Levy, Roberts and Klenner are irrelevant and warrant no further interest.”
Whilst the jury is still out on some points (and I’m not going to try and sway you), thankfully, there are 3 they agree on:
- Humans need plenty of dietary vitamin C to maintain good health.
- Most people are not getting enough, due to increased requirements of modern life.
- Ideally, sufficient levels of vitamin C should be achieved with food, due to the range of other beneficial elements it can provide, including phytonutrients, enzymes, minerals, fibre.
Plenty of ammunition to justify a DIY vitamin C powder project! And because this recipe calls for citrus peel, it’s the perfect way to reduce food waste in Winter.
Show me the science!
And what’s more, according to the research, there is a range of benefits depending on the type of citrus you use. Mandarins, tangerines, lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges have each been studied and have been found to contain differing levels of:
- Bioavailable vitamin C
- Phenolics and bioflavanoids (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory)
- Monoterpenes (anti-cancer, wound healing)
- Flavones: rutin, naringin, hesperidin (for metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, cancer, depression)
- Polymethoxylated flavones: tangeretin, nobiletin (anti-cancer, inhibit LDL oxidation, helpful in pregnancy)
- Magnesium, Calcium and Potassium
- Fibre (more than the orange itself)
I won’t get into discussing this issue in depth, but most clinicians are aware that vitamin C bioavailability is inversely proportional to dosage (i.e. the more you take, the less you absorb), which is why most prescribe small doses.
One of my favourite voices on this issue is Dr Suzanne Humphries, who points out that despite it being widespread knowledge that higher doses result in expensive urine, they also yield more expensive blood.
For example, taking 100mg of vitamin C powder (which has 80% bioavailability) means 80mg is absorbed. With a 500mg dose, of which only 64% is absorbed, you’re getting 315mg. (From her brilliant YouTube video)
This DIY Vitamin C powder is delicious as a tea, or in soups and stews. Just remember that heat will slightly diminish the vitamin C content, so your best option is to sprinkle it into yoghurt, smoothies, salads, dips or dressings. It’s a beautiful addition to desserts, great for cakes and custards and pairs perfectly with chocolate.
Including pith: rind of 1 orange = 1/4 cup powder (25g)
Excluding pith: 5 oranges = 1.5 tbl (25g) – this yields a delicious powder that is less bitter.
A common sense approach would be to enjoy 1-2 teaspoons daily, unless your practitioner suggests otherwise. Citrus can be allergenic for some people, so pay attention to your body and cease taking if necessary.
- Several pieces of citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, limes, tangelos, mandarins etc)
- Rinse and dry your fruit.
- If you intend to make use of the white pith (very nutritious, but also bitter), use a knife to remove the skin. Alternatively, use a sharp vegetable peeler to separate the skin, leaving the pith behind.
- Dehydrate the peels until completely dry and crispy: either in a dehydrator or low temperature oven (>40 degrees celcius if possible) with the door slightly ajar; or simply leave them in a warm, dry place for several days.
- Using a Thermomix, high powered blender or coffee grinder, mill the peel into a fine powder.
- Store in a small, airtight container in the fridge. Less air in the container means less oxidation and a more effective supplement.
- Only attempt this with organic citrus. Vitamin C alone will likely not counterbalance the harmful effects of pesticide residues (which will be more concentrated in powder form).
- Opt for the freshest, local produce you can find. Vitamin C is a fairly fragile nutrient and stores decrease quite rapidly in aging produce.
- Shelf life is arguably 12+ months, however for optimal potency, I’d recommend making it every 3-6 months.
I hope you enjoy this DIY vitamin C powder recipe. Can you see yourself trying it? I’d love to hear what other culinary uses you come up with for the powder!