Oranges come from semitropical evergreen trees that are thought to be native to Southeast Asia, although they are now commonly grown in southern California, southern Florida and other subtropical areas. Although they are widely known as fruits, they are actually berries. Oranges are characterized by thick, leathery rinds containing juicy, fibrous flesh. They are rich sources of several vitamins essential for proper health.
Oranges are best known as abundant sources of vitamin C. One orange contains about 82.7 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than the 75 milligrams women need on a daily basis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Vitamin C is a natural immune system booster and may help prevent viral and bacterial infections. It is also an antioxidant vitamin that may prevent organ and tissue damage caused by free radical molecules and lipids.
Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A -- that is, your body produces vitamin A from this vitamin. Vitamin A is necessary for vision and may prevent skin problems such as acne, according to Phyllis Balch, author of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing." It is also an immune system enhancer and an antioxidant. One medium orange contains about 122 micrograms of beta-carotene, or about 4 percent of the recommended daily intake.
Folate is a vitamin needed for optimal brain function as well as for the formation of red blood cells and the prevention of anemia. It also encourages the formation of white blood cells, which help destroy microorganisms that can cause infection and disease. Folate may also help alleviate the symptoms of depression and anxiety, according to Balch. Folate can also help prevent birth defects, making it an essential nutrient during pregnancy. One medium orange contains about 48 micrograms of folate -- about 12 percent of the recommended daily intake.
A medium orange contains about 0.6 milligrams of niacin, which is about 4 percent of the 14 milligrams women require on a daily basis. Niacin aids in proper blood circulation and promotes skin health. This vitamin supports nervous system function and helps your body metabolize proteins and fats from food sources. Niacin may also lower blood cholesterol levels, according to Balch.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Fruit of the Month: Oranges
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Oranges, Raw, Navels
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.
- orange and orange juice image by Kovac from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.