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Interstitial Cystitis and Vitamin C: Can You Get Enough From Food or Do You Need a Supplement?

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

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Ahh, the fall season is upon us…the leaves change colors, the crisp morning air, Sunday football games, what’s not to love about this time of year? Well, I hate to be a downer but fall brings cold weather and cold and flu season. Yuck! When you already have a chronic illness like Interstitial Cystitis, catching a cold, the flu or (gasp!) COVID can be devastating.

The good news is that we can fight cold bugs and viruses with the natural vitamins and nutrition in foods. But, how can we boost our immune system while still eating bladder-friendly foods? That is a question that IC dietitian Callie Krajcir hears a lot. Most of us know that citrus fruits are good sources of Vitamin C. But did you know that many vegetables are high in Vitamin C as well? Here are some excellent sources to incorporate into your meals and snacks.

IC Friendly Sources of Vitamin C

  1. Red, Orange or Yellow Bell Peppers - Did you know that one serving of these peppers has MORE Vitamin C than a serving of oranges? Yes, that is correct, just one serving of these sweet, crunchy peppers packs 170% of the RDA for Vitamin C. Try making a roasted red pepper dip (recipe in the IC Party Apps and Mocktails Cookbook) to add loads of Vitamin C to your diet.

  2. Potatoes - Say yes to baked white or sweet potatoes or even better, potato skins! Make sure to scrub the skins clean so you can eat those too! Most of the nutrients are stored in those skins. Boiled red or new potatoes offer up 25% of the RDA for Vitamin C. Top them with garlic butter and parsley to up the antioxidant load.

  3. Kale - This crunchy superfood is best served raw for its Vitamin C. Add thinly sliced fresh kale into your salads for a satisfying crunch. Or sneak some into your morning smoothie for extra nutrition. Just one cup of raw kale can serve up as much Vitamin C as a glass of orange juice.

  4. Blueberries - These delicious IC-friendly fruits are low in calories but high in nutrition. Add blueberries to your salads, morning bowl of oatmeal, and smoothies, or just eat them raw. One cup of blueberries has only 80 calories but 25% of your Vitamin C needs.

  5. Pumpkin - Pumpkins aren’t just for carving on Halloween. A small serving of this popular fall vegetable delivers 20% of the RDA for Vitamin C. The IC Diet Party App and Mocktail Cookbook offers several drink suggestions for getting this Vitamin C powerhouse into your diet. Try our simple and delicious Pumpkin Latte recipe or Pumpkin Eggnog recipe. Canned pumpkin is also delicious creamed into a soup or added to oatmeal.

  6. Vitamin C (Calcium Ascorbate) Supplement - YES there is a bladder-friendly Vitamin C supplement. If you just can’t pack enough Vitamin C into your diet from fruits and vegetables, try taking a buffered form of Vitamin C. Make sure the source is calcium ascorbate as other forms of Vitamin C are not friendly to the bladder. Try Desert Harvest’s Buffered Vitamin C for 400 mg of Vitamin C (use code CKNUTR22 for 10% off).

And don’t forget that important immune-fighting mineral, zinc! According to the College of Allopathic Medicine research, zinc supplementation is associated with a reduced risk of developing symptomatic COVID. Many research studies support zinc supplementation for reducing the duration of a cold. The good news is that there are many delicious and nutritious zinc-rich foods on the IC diet.

IC-friendly sources of zinc

  1. Shellfish -This is hands-down the best bioavailable source of zinc out there. One serving of oysters delivers over 200% of your daily recommended amount for zinc. If oysters aren’t your favorite shellfish, treat yourself to some delicious real crab or lobster. Just 3 ounces of Alaskan King Crab can serve up 60% of the RDA for zinc.

  2. Red Meat - Hamburger eaters rejoice - a quarter-pound hamburger patty delivers 65% of your daily allowance. Beef, pork, venison, ostrich, lamb - there are many ways to incorporate lean and healthy meats into your daily meals. Try some gyros with ground lamb or lean slices of pork with fajitas, you’ll find these recipes in the IC Summer Cookbook.

  3. Nuts - Peanuts and almonds are high in fiber, and nutrients and offer lower amounts of zinc. Add some almond or peanut butter to your morning oatmeal. Or try a delicious IC-friendly snack bar made from nuts and dates. Brands like RX bar and Lara bar offer various flavors that are easy to grab and go.

  4. Eggs - They aren’t just for breakfast. Hard-boil your eggs to make them grab-and-go favorites. They can be diced over salads or added to your sandwiches. Make mini crustless quiches out of eggs, milk, nitrate-free ham and cheese for breakfast on the go. These nutrition powerhouses can be served up in so many ways. Two eggs deliver 12% of the RDA for zinc plus tons of protein to get you through the day.

If you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can increase the bioavailability of zinc in plant products like nuts and beans by soaking them before cooking. For non-meat eaters, zinc supplementation is bladder friendly and highly advised by the National Institute of Health.

We hope this post provides you with all the information you need to have a healthy fall and winter!

For more support on your IC journey, apply to work with us inside Road To Remission.

Author: Beverly Leveque, RD

Edited by: Callie Krajcir, RD, Owner of Callie K Nutrition

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