Vitamin C Rich FoodsFoods which are good sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the most familiar vitamins, but how much do you know about vitamin C rich foods? Most people immediately think of oranges, but did you know there are many foods containing even higher levels of this vitamin? This page is all about foods high in vitamin C. As well as providing you with an insight into vitamin C benefits and what this vitamin is, we have a great list of vitamin C rich foods which hopefully will have some new suggestions for you to include in your diet.
Besides knowing the best vitamin C rich foods, it is well worth knowing exactly what role it plays in the upkeep of your body. We cover this in our section on vitamin C benefits. We have also highlighted the conditions linked with low levels this nutrient in our section on vitamin C deficiency symptoms.
What is vitamin C?
Quite simply, it is one of the most important nutrients that your body needs to carry out all of the processes that we all take for granted. It is called an ‘essential’ vitamin because it is just that – we cannot live without it.
Its scientific name is Ascorbic acid. It is a water soluble vitamin that cannot be stored inside your body, so you need a regular supply in order to remain healthy. Any vitamin C that you consume over and above your daily needs will simply pass through your body, so if you stop eating vitamin C foods there is no store for your body to draw from.
The best way to get the nutrients that you need is through eating foods high in vitamin C, however many people take tablets or capsules on a daily basis. While it is better to consume this vitamin through foods, certain groups of people will benefit from supplements.
Different countries have different recommendations regarding the ideal daily intake of vitamin C. In the UK adults are generally recommended to take between 40 and 60mg, however the figures for the USA are somewhat higher, as you can see from our chart to the right. It is also recommended that people who smoke or live in a smoking household should have an extra 35 mg of Vitamin C per day. This is partly because smoke increases the amount of this vitamin that the body needs to repair damage caused by free radicals.
RDI Vitamin C
- 90mg Men
- 75mg Women
- 85mg Pregnant women
- 120mg Breastfeeding women
- 75mg Boys 14-18 years
- 65mg Girls 14-18 years
- 45mg Children 9-13 years
- 25mg Children 4-8 years
- 15mg Toddler 1-3 years
- 50mg Infants 7-12 months
- 40mg Infants 0-6 months
Vitamin C Foods ListFoods that contain Vitamin C
Here we are going to highlight foods high in Vitamin C, some of which will be very familiar, others perhaps a little surprising.
The Best Vitamin C Rich Foods
If you are a fruit fan then think ‘C’ as standing for citrus, as some of the best food sources of this vitamin are citrus fruits. All amounts are in milligrams (mg) per 100 g (3.5 oz).
- Blackcurrants – 181 mg
- Blueberries – 9.7 mg
- Cantaloupe – 36.7 mg
- Cranberries – 13.3 mg
- Grapefruit – 34.4 mg
- Guava – 228.33 mg
- Kiwi fruit – 92.7 mg
- Lemons – 53 mg
- Limes – 39.1 mg
- Lychees – 71.5 mg
- Mango – 36.4 mg
- Oranges – 53.2 mg
- Papaya – 60.9 mg
- Pineapple 47.8 mg
- Raspberries 26.2 mg
- Rose hips – 426 mg
- Strawberries – 58.8 mg
- Tomatoes, cooked – 22.8 mg
- Watermelon – 8.1 mg
- Bell peppers, red – 127.7 mg
- Broccoli – 89.2 mg
- Cauliflower – 48.2 mg
- Bell peppers, yellow – 183.5 mg
- Brussel sprouts, cooked – 62 mg
- Cabbage, cooked – 37.5mg
- Bell peppers, green – 80.4 mg
- Chili, green – 242.5 mg
- Chili, red – 143.7 mg
- Garden cress – 69 mg
- Jalapeno peppers – 118.6 mg
- Kale – 120 mg
- Mangetout peas – 60 mg
- Potatoes, baked with skin 12.6 mg
- Spinach, raw – 28.1 mg
- Turnip greens – 60 mg
- Watercress – 43 mg
- Winter Squash, baked – 15.1 mg
Other foods and drinks
- Orange juice – 33.6 mg
- Pineapple juice – 42 mg
- Tomato juice – 70.1 mg
- Dill, fresh – 85 mg
- Thyme, fresh – 160 mg
- Chestnuts, roasted – 26 mg
- Chicken liver – 28 mg
As you can see from the above list, almost all sources are natural foods that are grown and cultivated. This means that they also provide you with a whole host of other nutrients and you will find that you see them on several of the other pages on this site as well. It is also worth noting that the vitamin content of foods may be reduced by prolonged storage, or by cooking. Steaming or microwaving helps to reduce vitamin loss through cooking, but luckily many of these foods are naturally eaten raw or still have a high vitamin C content once cooked.
Vitamin C BenefitsWhat does Vitamin C do?
In this section we are going to discuss the benefits of this vitamin, so you can see exactly why it is important to be eating vitamin C rich foods on a regular basis. It takes just a few weeks of insufficient vitamin C before you begin to show signs of a deficiency. However, we cover that in the section below. Here we cover the benefits of this essential nutrient.
- Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can prevent damage to cells in your body caused by free-radicals. Free radicals are formed when our bodies convert our food into energy. People are also exposed to them through cigarette smoke, air pollution and UV light from the Sun. Antioxidants help reverse free radical damage and are thought to help prevent health issues such as arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
- It aids in producing collagen, a protein used to make skin, tendons, cartilage, and also blood vessels. Furthermore, it also aids the growth, repair and maintenance of tissue throughout your body.
- It contributes to the healing of wounds that you may sustain, much like vitamin K which is an important clotting agent.
- Along with calcium, it is responsible for maintaining and repairing your teeth and bones and keeping them healthy.
- There is some evidence that supplements of this vitamin may help reduce high blood pressure, in conjunction with conventional medication.
- It improves the absorption of iron-based foods.
- It helps with immune system function.
Of course, you may also be wondering if it is possible to take too much of this vitamin. Tests have shown that adults taking less that 1000 mg (g) of vitamin C per day is unlikely to cause any harm. However too much vitamin C can cause diarrhoea, nausea and stomach cramps.
Vitamin C deficiency symptoms
What can happen if you do not get enough vitamin C?
Until the end of the 18th century, many sailors on long sea voyages contracted and even died from scurvy. This disease of the gums (eventually leading to teeth falling out), skin blemishes, depression and poor wound healing. A British navy surgeon called Sir James Lind discovered that eating citrus fruits could cure scurvy in sailors, though scientists didn’t prove that this was due to ascorbic acid until 1932.
These days, vitamin C deficiency is uncommon in most developed countries, and only occurs in vitamin C intake falls below 10 mg per day for several weeks. However, insufficient levels of vitamin C in the body over a long period of time have been linked with the following issues:
- High blood pressure
- Eye disease
- Severe signs of aging
- Plaque build up in blood vessels
- Gallbladder disease
- Heart attacks
It is however important to note that vitamin C is not able to cure these conditions nor is it guaranteed to prevent them, though it appears that people consuming plenty of vitamin C rich foods may be at a lower risk of developing these conditions. Research is still ongoing in order to better understand the functions of this important vitamin within the human body.