20 best foods for vitamin C: Nutrition, benefits, and recipes
Photo: medicalnewstoday

Fruits and vegetables are the best food sources of vitamin C. Eating a variety of these healthful foods will help people meet their daily requirements.

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, plays many important roles in the body. In particular, it is key to the immune system, helping prevent infections and fight disease.

The human body does not store vitamin C, so people need to get this nutrient from their diet every day. It dissolves in water, and any excess leaves the body in urine.

This article looks at the foods richest in vitamin C and how to include them in the diet. It also discusses the vitamin’s function and health benefits.

According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C for adults is:

  • 90 milligrams (mg) for males
  • 75 mg for females
  • 85 mg when pregnant
  • 120 mg when breastfeeding
  • an additional 35 mg for people who smoke

Some experts believe that people should consume much more than the recommended daily allowance for good health. One scientific editorial suggests that 200 mg per day is an optimal amount for most adults.

One serving of any of the foods below contains more than 20 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. This makes these foods “excellent” sources of the vitamin, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The following 20 foods are among the richest sources of vitamin C:

Food Serving size Milligrams (mg) per serving Percent of 90 mg daily value (DV)
1 Guava, raw 1 cup, raw 377 419%
2 Sweet red pepper, raw 1 cup, raw 190 211%
3 Tomato juice 1 cup, canned 170 188.9%
4 Orange juice 1 cup 124 137.8%
5 Sweet green pepper 1 cup, raw 120 133%
6 Hot green chili pepper, raw 1 pepper, raw 109 121%
7 Oranges 1 large fruit 97.5 108.8%
8 Strawberries 1 cup, sliced 97.6 108%
9 Papaya 1 small fruit 95.6 106.2%
10 Pink grapefruit juice 1 cup 93.9 104.3%
11 Broccoli 1 cup, raw 81.2 90.2%
12 Pineapple chunks 1 cup, raw 78.9 87.7%
13 Potato 1 large vegetable 72.7 80.8%
14 Brussels sprouts 1 cup, raw 74.8 79.8%
15 Kiwifruit 1 fruit 64 71.1%
16 Mango 1 cup, raw 60.1 66.7%
17 Cantaloupe 1 cup 57.3 63.7%
18 Cauliflower 1 cup, raw 51.6 57.3%
19 Lemon 1 fruit 44.5 49.4%
20 White grapefruit ½ medium fruit 39 43.3%

Health benefits of vitamin C intake

The following sections discuss some of the most important benefits of vitamin C.

Why you need vitamin C

20 best foods for vitamin C: Nutrition, benefits, and recipes
Photo: WebMD

It protects your cells from free radical damage

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells from being damaged by free radicals produced by cigarette smoke, air pollution, excessive sunlight and normal metabolism. Free radicals are thought to play a role in rapid ageing and diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

It is needed to make collagen

Vitamin C is essential for the synthesis of collagen which is needed to support new tissue growth. It promotes a healthy skin as well as the healing of cuts and wounds. Collagen is also found in the connective tissues of healthy gums, bones, muscles, cartilage, and blood vessels, cites healthxchange.sg.

It improves iron absorption

Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron found in vegetables, fruits and nuts.

Potential interactions with vitamin C

Excessive doses of vitamin C from over-supplementation may interfere with certain medications or conditions.

Too much ascorbic acid or vitamin C (2000mg/day) may increase the amount of aluminium absorbed from aluminium compounds. Patients with kidney impairment on long term use of aluminium-containing compounds should avoid high dose of vitamin C supplements.

Concurrent administration of oestrogen and large doses of vitamin C (1g daily) may increase oestrogen levels, so high dose vitamin C supplementation should be avoided. Women on oestrogen therapy should not substantially vary their intake of vitamin C supplements.

Patients with diabetes, kidney stones or kidney dysfunction should avoid prolonged use of high-dose vitamin C supplementation.

You should always talk to your doctor first before taking any high dose vitamin C supplementation on a long-term basis, especially if you have any other underlying medical conditions.

Health benefits of Vitamin C Intake

20 best foods for vitamin C: Nutrition, benefits, and recipes
Photo: Greatest

Boosting heart health

Some evidence suggests that vitamin C may help lower the risk of heart disease or its complications.

One study indicates that people who consume more vitamin C have a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

Other researchers are not convinced that vitamin C alone improves heart health. However, it is clear that eating more fruits and vegetables can help boost the health of the heart by providing a range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.

Strengthening the immune system

Vitamin C has an immune-boosting effect that can help the body fight off illnesses, such as the common cold.

One study found that vitamin C helped prevent pneumonia and supported tetanus treatment. Also, findings of an animal study suggest that vitamin C plays a role in reducing lung inflammation that results from the flu, according to medicalnewstoday.

Lowering the risk of some cancers

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, so it can prevent damage caused by free radicals. This may help prevent diseases such as cancer.

Investigations into whether vitamin C effectively prevents cancer have yielded mixed findings. However, the results of a few studies have been positive:

  • A meta-analysis found that vitamin C was linked to a lower risk of certain types of brain tumor.
  • Another study determined that high doses of vitamin C impaired the growth of colorectal tumors in mice.
  • A different meta-analysis observed that higher vitamin C intake was associated with a lower risk of lung cancer.

Signs of vitamin C deficiency

20 best foods for vitamin C: Nutrition, benefits, and recipes
Photo: The Healthy

Vitamin C deficiency is rare, but its signs are bleeding gums, easy bruising, dry scaly skin, muscle weakness, and joint and muscle aches.

In extreme cases, a vitamin C deficiency may lead to scurvy, a disease characterised by bleeding, bruising, anaemia and weakness. Such a case, involving a 37-year-old woman with underlying obsessive-compulsive and eating disorders, was actually reported in the Singapore Medical Journal in 2006.

A deficiency in vitamin C may also impair wound healing. Patients recovering from injuries, surgeries, burns and wounds may benefit from a short-term use of vitamin C supplement as it can promote the healing process.

When buying supplements, consumers should look for products from reliable sources to ensure quality and safety and evaluate the manufacturer’s health claims carefully.

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