New Zealand research questions value of vitamin supplements over fresh fruit

13:59, May 27, 2011      

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Eating kiwifruit might be a much better way of getting vitamin C into your system than taking purified vitamin supplements, according to research from New Zealand.

Researchers with the University of Otago found that in mice eating kiwifruit, vitamin C uptake was five times as effective as taking a purified supplement form.

The study was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the highest ranking journal for human nutrition research, said a statement from the university.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Margreet Vissers said people required vitamin C (ascorbate) in all body tissues and organs to be healthy, but the only source of vitamin C was through food or in purified form, arguably the most commonly consumed vitamin supplement.

In the experiment vitamin C-deficient mice were fed the vitamin over a month, either as kiwifruit or as an equivalent amount of pure vitamin C, said the statement.

Mice fed the kiwifruit absorbed vitamin C much more efficiently than those given the purified supplement form, and they also retained it for longer, indicating something in the fruit improved absorption and retention.

"The findings of the mouse trial have important implications for human nutrition," said Vissers.

"The question that has often been asked is whether a supplement is as good a source of vitamin C as whole foods, but few studies have addressed this issue. We are uniquely placed to do that work. "

An equivalent human study was underway to determine whether the situation also applied to people, said the statement.

The mouse study was funded by the university and kiwifruit marketing firm Zespri.

Source: Xinhua

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