Here’s a list of 8 vitamin C sources you can add to your diet.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an important vitamin that is used by every cell in the body for the maintenance, repair and growth of tissue.
Because of this, you need vitamin C to maintain healthy skin, blood vessels, bones, cartilage and teeth.
Vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy and anaemia, and can increase your risk of gout, stroke and depression.
While most animals can make their own vitamin C in their kidneys or liver, humans cannot. As vitamin C is a water-soluble micronutrient, your body can’t store it. This means that you need to ensure you’re getting enough from your diet every day to meet your body’s needs. Fortunately, eating vitamin C-rich foods doesn’t put you at risk for vitamin C overdose.
This article discusses 8 great vitamin C sources, from strawberries to oranges, kale and beyond.
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of vitamin C
- 0-6 months – 40mg/daily
- 7-12 months – 50mg/daily
- 1-3 years – 15mg/daily
- 4-8 years – 25mg/daily
- 9-13 years – 45mg/daily
- Girls 14-18 years – 65mg/daily
- Pregnant teens – 80mg/daily
- Breastfeeding teens – 115mg/daily
- Boys 14-18 years – 75mg/daily
- Men 19 years and older – 90mg/daily
- Women 19 years and older – 75mg/daily
- Pregnant women – 85mg/daily
- Breastfeeding women – 120mg/daily
Smokers and those exposed to passive smoking should increase their intake of vitamin C by 35mg per day.
Since vitamin C is mainly found in plants, there is a huge variety of sources of vitamin C for vegans. From meat sources, vitamin C is only found in raw meat and in organs.
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8 best vitamin C sources
Guavas are one of the richest vitamin C sources and they also contain a high amount of copper. Copper can help with the absorption of hormones, especially thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones regulate your metabolism, which is how your body is able to break down the food you eat and convert it into energy.
Vitamin C can also help with the management of hypothyroidism. This makes guava very good for maintaining thyroid function.
- Guava, one fruit – 125.6mg vitamin C – 140% Daily Allowance (DV)
Peppers are another vitamin C powerhouse. Peppers’ colours vary depending on how ripe they are, with green peppers being unripe, then moving through yellow, and orange, until they reach their ripe red.
The colours of the peppers don’t just indicate their ripeness or flavour. It can also tell you how much vitamin C the pepper contains.
- Green pepper – 131,9mg vitamin C – 147% DV
- Red peppers – 209.4mg vitamin C – 233% DV
- Yellow pepper – 341.3mg vitamin C – 379% DV
All peppers have a very high level of vitamin C, but yellow peppers are the richest. Green peppers have more vitamin A and carotene, however, so it is definitely worth eating all the different types.
Vitamin C doesn’t cure the common cold. However, it can make your colds last for less time and can prevent secondary infections such as bacterial chest infections.
Vitamin C is often associated with fruit, but some of the best vitamin C sources are actually cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables originate from the same plant, and can include broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
All of these are good sources of vitamin C (in particular broccoli), and they also have a wide range of health benefits. They are full of important nutrients and they are also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which can help to reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis.
- Broccoli, 100g – 89.2mg vitamin C – 99% DV
- Cauliflower, 100g – 48.2mg vitamin C – 54& DV
- Cabbage, 100g – 36.6mg vitamin C – 41% DV
4. Brussel sprouts
Brussel sprouts are another cruciferous vegetable. They have been much-maligned in the past, but they have had a resurgence in recent years. Part of this is because of their health benefits. They are low in calories and are a good source of carbohydrates, protein, and fibre.
Brussel sprouts also have the same antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties as the other cruciferous vegetables, In fact, they are considered the vegetable with the highest level of antioxidants.
Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and stop them from damaging your cells. This can help to prevent several diseases such as liver disease, heart disease, and some cancers. and can lower your risk of heart attack.
- Brussel sprouts – 85mg vitamin C – 94% DV
Of all the cruciferous vegetables, kale is one of the best vitamin C sources. Kale has been put forward as a superfood because of how nutritionally dense it is. It has high levels of several important vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, vitamin K, calcium, magnesium and selenium.
Unlike many other leafy vegetables, it contains low levels of oxidate, which is a risk factor for kidney stones (https://www.livescience.com/50818-kale-nutrition.html).
- Kale, 100g – 93.4mg vitamin C – 104% DV
Cooking can reduce the amount of vitamin C in your food as it leaks out into your water. If you eat it as part of a stew, with the water, you will still get the same amount of vitamin C. If you throw the water away, however, you will lose a good portion of the vitamin C. Stir-frying, steaming, or microwaving is better than boiling.
When you think of foods that are high in vitamin C, oranges will probably be the first thing that pops into your mind. Because vitamin C can help your body to absorb iron, drinking a glass of orange juice is often prescribed alongside iron supplements for treating anaemia.
Alongside lemons, oranges were first proposed as a cure for scurvy in the 18th century. Many sailors developed scurvy on long voyages where there was no access to fruits or vegetables and when sailors were given oranges and lemons to eat, they were cured. Scurvy can cause bleeding gums, tooth loss, poor wound healing, bleeding eyes, and brittle bones.
- One large orange – 97.9mg vitamin C – 109% DV
Strawberries’ red colour is due to high levels of phytonutrients and flavonoids. These are also forms of antioxidants so strawberries, which are also high in the antioxidant vitamin C, can have powerful effects on your health.
- Strawberries, 100g – 58.8mg vitamin C – 65% DV
Another fruit with a high level of vitamin C is kiwifruit. They are also high in potassium, which can help lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. Vitamin C can also lower blood pressure due to its action as a diuretic (increases urination). Kiwifruit is a good choice, therefore, if you want to make sure that your blood pressure doesn’t get too high.
- One kiwifruit – 64mg vitamin C – 71% DV
Take a Diet-First Approach
Vitamin C is an important vitamin throughout the body’s cells, tissues, and organs. It can reduce your risk of scurvy, stroke, gout, and depression, and can keep your skin looking young and healthy. Your body can’t make or store vitamin C so you need to get it from your diet. It is very hard to get vitamin C from meat sources, and the fruits and vegetables are good vitamin C sources. Some of the best vitamin c sources include guava, peppers, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, oranges, strawberries, and kiwifruit.
READ ALSO: 7 Vitamin C Health Benefits You Need to Know About