By Angela C. Torrence, Nutritionist
Where would many of us be without our Vitamin C? Like many individuals intent on boosting the immune system with vitamin C, you might reach for your orange juice without thinking twice about the actual amount of vitamin C you are ingesting.
Did you know that when you buy orange juice from the grocery store, it may not have the amount of vitamin C that’s listed on the back? When I learned about vitamin C break-down, I realized that everyone needs to know about this!
Research has long shown that vitamin C breaks down over time, and the process is sped up in the presence of light and heat. One study conducted at Arizona State University found that ready-to-drink orange juice might have as little as 50% (or less) the amount of vitamin C labeled on the package at the time of opening.
How can the advertised amount of vitamin C differ so drastically from the actual amount?
From the time of packaging to the time it gets to the grocery store, that juice has spent time in transport and may have been exposed to some sort of heat too. The study indicates that opened orange juice loses about 2% vitamin C per day…and if you start at let’s say 75%, that 2% per day can be a lot!
If your orange juice sits in the fridge for 4 weeks or has reached its expiration, it might have very little or even 0% vitamin C! The solution? The study suggests that frozen orange juice from concentrate has as much as double the amount of vitamin C as its ready-made counterpart at the time of opening. For me, this is reason enough to buy the frozen stuff-plus it is more convenient.
If you don’t care for frozen OJ from concentrate, pay attention to the expiration date and make sure your ready-to-drink orange juice is at least 3+ weeks from the expiration date. When you do open the container, drink it within 1 week of opening for optimal amounts of vitamin C.