Vitamin C is a naturally occurring nutrient required for a healthy and strong body. Its antioxidant property helps to strengthen the connective tissues and prevent nasal congestion. It is required for creating peptide hormones, tyrosine, dopamine and ATP. Vitamin C is also required to process other nutrients like iron and calcium. Together with iron and calcium, vitamin C can help counteract lead poisoning.
An ample supply of vitamin C ensures healthy bones, tendons and skin. It helps to neutralize the oxidative stress, lowering the risk of cancer and other harmful diseases. It also helps the immune system to scavenge the free radicals and other damaging substances in the body.
The side effects from excess consumption of foods rich in vitamin C are rare, as the body cannot store this vitamin. However, try not to consume more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day, as an excess can lead to diarrhea and stomach upset.
A prolonged deficiency in vitamin C is called scurvy, a disease that mainly affects older and malnourished adults. A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to:
- Bleeding gums
- Decreased wound healing rate
- Dry, dull and damaged hair
- Easy bruising
- Inflammation of gums
- Nose bleeding
- Weight gain due to slow metabolism
- Rough, dry, dull and scaly skin
- Swollen and painful joints
- Weak tooth enamel
Recommended Daily Value:
The recommended daily value of vitamin C depends on age, gender and activity levels. Other factors like lifestyle, pregnancy and illness should also be considered.
The recommended daily value of vitamin C is:
- 0 – 6 months: 40 milligrams/day (mg/day)
- 7 – 12 months: 50 mg/day
- 1 – 3 years: 15 mg/day
- 4 – 8 years: 25 mg/day
- 9 – 13 years: 45 mg/day
- Girls 14 – 18 years: 65 mg/day
- Pregnant teens: 80 mg/day
- Breastfeeding teens: 115 mg/day
- Boys 14 – 18 years: 75 mg/day
- Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
- Women age 19 year and older: 75 mg/day
- Pregnant women: 85 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women: 120 mg/day
Pregnant, lactating women and smokers need higher amounts of vitamin C daily. Chain smokers should increase their daily amount of vitamin C by an additional 35 milligrams a day. Pregnant and lactating women should consult their doctor for a proper guidance.
Vitamin C Rich Foods:
The best way to get your daily dose of vitamin C is by eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean meat. The following list of foods will help you counteract the deficiency of vitamin C.
Guava is considered a super food owing to its high mineral and vitamin content. The fruit is abundant in vitamin C. A medium sized guava provides 125.57 milligrams of vitamin C. This equals to over 200% of the daily recommended value. This exotic fruit is high in fiber, which aids in the gastrointestinal health. It is also a good source of folic acid, manganese and potassium.
2. Cayenne pepper:
Cayenne pepper is used to add a dash of flavor to bland foods like rice, lentils and beans. One tablespoon of cayenne pepper provides the body with 3.82 milligrams of vitamin C. This equals to 6% of the daily value for an average adult. Cayenne pepper is an excellent source of antioxidant and minerals as well.
3. Bell Peppers:
These sweet and colorful vegetables are one of the most nutrient dense foods you can include in your diet. These versatile vegetables add a great flavor to your pizza and pasta dishes while preventing heart diseases. A medium sized bell pepper provides 342 milligrams of vitamin C. This equals to 570% of the daily value. Bell peppers are also known to prevent cataract and blood clot formation. All bell peppers contain high levels of vitamin C, but yellow has the highest, followed by red pepper. Bottom of Form
A one cup serving of cauliflower provides 46.5 milligrams of vitamin C, around three quarters of the daily value. Cauliflower is not just one of the rich vitamin C foods. It provides several vitamins and minerals as well. The vegetable provides plenty of vitamin K, dietary fiber and folate as well. It is low in calorie count too.
Herbs make an excellent addition to the meal, not just for their wonderful flavor, but for their nutrients and health benefits as well. Dried herbs are denser in flavor than their fresh equivalents. Many herbs like thyme, dried coriander, dried basil, rosemary and parsley are rich in vitamin C. One tablespoon of thyme provides 1.6 milligram, or 3% of the daily value of vitamin C, while one tablespoon of parsley provides 9% of the daily-recommended value. 1 tablespoon of rosemary provides 1.84 milligrams of vitamin C. One tablespoon of dried table contains 2 %, while 1 tablespoon of dried coriander provides 13% of the daily-recommended value of vitamin C. Herbs are a great source of vitamin A, B, magnesium, folic acid, calcium and potassium as well. Grow these herbs in your garden to get a fresh supply all summer.
[ Read: 20 Vitamin A Rich Foods ]
6. Brussels sprouts:
Brussels sprouts might not be a favorite of kids, but just one cup serving can provide 113% of the daily value of vitamin C of an average adult. Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamin K, iron, folate, potassium and phosphorus also.
7. Green leafy vegetables:
Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, mustard greens and turnip greens are rich in phytochemicals, carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin A and C. These disease fighting plant chemicals team up with vitamins and minerals to fight cancer and other chronic diseases. One cup of chopped kale can help you meet more than the daily value. One cup of chopped mustard green provides 539 milligrams of vitamin with just 15 calories. One serving of raw turnip greens provides 33 milligrams of vitamin C. Green leafy vegetables also prevent the stroke, degeneration and osteoarthritis. So, toss your salad with these green to enjoy the nutritional benefits.
8. Chili peppers:
Green and red chili peppers are also an excellent source of vitamin C. Just a single green chili pepper provides 182% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. A serving of red chili peppers provides 108% of the daily value of vitamin C. These spicy treats are a good source of vitamin A, K and manganese as well. If you can handle the spice, try to include more of these in your diet.
Cooked or raw, you can never go wrong with broccoli. The high levels of antioxidants in broccoli help to boost the immune system, preventing the body from several diseases. A half cup of broccoli can provide you with 81.17 milligrams of vitamin C, enough to meet the daily value of vitamin C. This cruciferous vegetable is low in calories as well, a half cup containing just 30 calories. Now do you need any more reason to add this healthy vegetable in your diet?
The fuzzy, egg shaped fruit is a better source of vitamin C than orange. One kiwi fruit a day can provide your body with 85 milligrams of vitamin C. To preserve the vitamin C content in kiwi, eat the fruit uncooked. Enjoy kiwi fruit for your breakfast or as a hearty and filling smoothie.
Pineapple has been used since centuries to settle stomach upset and relieve constipation. The fruit is also noted for its anti-inflammatory properties and healing nutrients. One cup of chopped pineapples provides the body with 131% of the daily-recommended amount of vitamin C. Besides providing the body with high levels of vitamin C, pineapple can also help to strengthen the bones, boost cardiovascular health and alleviate arthritis. This tropical fruit will be a delicious addition to your fruit salad or smoothie. You can even stir some pineapple with chicken, shrimp and prawns.
[ Read: 20 Vitamin D Rich Foods ]
This bright colored fruit is noted for its lycopene and antioxidant properties. However, tomato is an excellent source of vitamin C as well. One medium tomato can provide you with nearly half of the daily-recommended value of vitamin C. Even the sun-dried tomatoes can help you get your daily dose of vitamin C. A one cup serving of sun-dried tomatoes provides 112 milligrams of vitamin C. This equals to 170% of the daily vitamin c need. Tomatoes are also a great source of vitamin C, K, potassium and iron. The nutrients present in this fruit can help protect against prostate cancer, respiratory infections, skin cancer, clogged arteries and other ailments.
13. Red cabbage:
Red cabbage is a nutritional powerhouse. This nutrient rich food is loaded with protective compounds that may help to stave off cancer and heart diseases. However, did you know that red cabbage is a viable source of vitamin C as well? One cup of chopped and fresh red cabbage can provide you with 50.73 milligrams of vitamin C, 2 grams of fiber and just 28 calories. Raw cabbage is the best for getting the vitamin C. Steam, microwave or stir-fry red cabbage for maximum nutrition retention.
Papaya is another excellent source of vitamin C. One medium papaya fruit provides 187.87 milligrams of vitamin C. This is three times more than the daily recommended amount. This delicious and colorful fruit provides the body with other health benefits as well. It contains nutrients like vitamin A, B, K, calcium and potassium. Throw a slice of papaya to your smoothie or yogurt for a delicious, power packed treat.
Strawberries are nutritional powerhouses. They burst with healthy compounds, phytochemicals and nutrients like fiber, folate and magnesium. The high levels of antioxidants in berries reduce the oxidative stress, protecting the heart from low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Berries make an excellent addition to your smoothies, fruit salad and a healthy treat after dinner. Just serving of strawberries can help you meet your daily vitamin C need. 100 grams of this delicious berry provide 98 milligrams of vitamin C and just 53 calories.
The mere fragrance of melons can make anyone irresistible. Melons like cantaloupe and watermelon are high vitamin C foods. About 1/8 of a medium cantaloupe provides 34% of the daily recommended value of vitamin C. Cantaloupe is excellent for promoting lung health, reducing stress and preventing heart diseases. It also protects from vision loss and respiratory illness. Watermelon, on the other hand, provides 112% of your daily vitamin C value. In addition to vitamin C, melons also provide vitamin A, potassium, and 19 calories. Try to buy whole lemons to preserve its nutrient content, especially vitamin C, which is diminished by constant exposure to air.
Mangoes are colorful, seasonal fruit, loved by a majority of the population. They are filled with vitamins and minerals required for the functioning of the body. They are a great source of vitamin A, B, C, fiber, copper and potassium. An average sized mango provides 58 milligrams of vitamin C, amounting to nearly 96% of the daily value.
18. Citrus fruits:
Citrus fruits like orange, lemon and grapefruit are the most common sources of vitamin C. Both juice and fresh fruit can help you much of the daily value of vitamin C. A half cup of grapefruit juice provides 70 milligrams of vitamin C, while orange juice provides 93 milligrams. Citrus fruits are a great source of folic acid, B complex vitamins and potassium. A single orange provides 70 milligrams and a medium sized grapefruit provides 65 milligrams of vitamin C.
Fresh and sweet garden peas are another excellent source of vitamin C. It contains plant based protein and non-heme iron, making it an excellent food for the vegetarians. Peas can also help to reduce the risk of developing certain cancers, depression, macular degeneration and high cholesterol. 100 grams peas provide 41 grams of vitamin C.
20. Sweet potatoes:
This vibrant colored food adds several important nutrients in the diet and is another rich vitamin C foods. It contains twice as much fiber than a potato, almost 7 grams per serving. It is also filled with carotenoids, calcium, vitamin B6, manganese, vitamin C and E. Sweet potato is rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body. 1 cup serving of sweet potatoes can provide 65% of the daily amount of vitamin C and 700% of the daily value of vitamin A.
[ Read: 10 Vitamin B1 Rich Foods ]
Vitamin C Content of Some Common Foods
|Food||Serving size||Vitamin C (mg)|
|Vegetables and Fruit|
|Peppers (red, yellow) raw||125 mL (½ cup)||101-144|
|Peppers (red, green), cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||121-132|
|Peppers, green, raw||125 mL (½ cup)||63|
|Broccoli, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||54|
|Cabbage, red, raw||250 mL (1 cup)||54|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||125 mL (4 sprouts)||38-52|
|Kohlrabi, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||47|
|Broccoli, raw||125 mL (½ cup)||42|
|Snow peas, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||41|
|Cabbage, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||30|
|Cauliflower, raw or cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||26-29|
|Kale, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||28|
|Rapini, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||24|
|Potato, with skin, cooked||1 medium||17-24|
|Bok Choy, cooked||125 mL (1/2 cup)||23|
|Sweet potato, with skin, cooked||1 medium||22|
|Asparagus, frozen, cooked||6 spears||22|
|Balsam pear/bitter melon||125 mL (½ cup)||22|
|Turnip greens, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||21|
|Snow peas, raw||125 mL (½ cup)||20|
|Collards, cooked||125 mL (½ cup)||18|
|Tomato, raw||1 medium||16|
|Tomato sauce, canned||125 mL (½ cup)||15|
|Strawberries||125 mL (½ cup)||52|
|Pineapple||125 mL (½ cup)||39-49|
|Grapefruit, pink or red||½ fruit||38-47|
|Cantaloupe||125 mL (½ cup)||31|
|Avocado, Florida||½ fruit||26|
|Soursop||125 mL (½ cup)||25|
|Tangerine or mandarin||1 medium||22|
|Persimmon||125 mL (½ cup)||17|
|Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)||125 mL (½ cup)||14-17|
|Juice (orange, grapefruit, apple, pineapple, grape) , Vitamin C added||125 mL (½ cup)||23-66|
|Fruit and vegetable cocktail||125 mL (½ cup)||35-40|
|Guava nectar||125 mL (½ cup)||26|
|Grain Products||This food group contains very little of this nutrient.|
|Milk and Alternatives||This food group contains very little of this nutrient.|
|Meats and Alternatives||This food group contains very little of this nutrient.|
|Source - dietitians.ca|