Kiwifruit better than vitamin C tablets

Last updated 05:00 28/05/2011

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Kiwifruit is a much better source of vitamin C than supplements, Christchurch researchers have found.

Otago University Christchurch investigated kiwifruit as a source of vitamin C and found that in mice eating kiwifruit, vitamin C uptake was five times as effective as taking a purified supplement form.

The study has been published in The American Journal for Clinical Nutrition, the highest-ranking journal for human nutrition research.

Lead researcher Associate Professor Margreet Vissers said people needed vitamin C in all body tissues and organs.

Because people's bodies could not make the vitamin, they had to get it from food.

Vitamin C is also available in purified form and is one of the most commonly consumed vitamin supplements.

Mice fed kiwifruit absorbed vitamin C much more efficiently than those given the purified supplement form, and retained it for longer. Vissers said this suggested that there was something in the fruit that improved absorption and retention. "The findings of the mouse trial have important implications for human nutrition," she said.

A human trial was under way. "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," Vissers said.

The mouse study was funded by Zespri and Otago University.

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