Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin C by eating a variety of foods including the following:
- Citrus fruits (such as oranges and grapefruit) and their juices, as well as red and green pepper and kiwifruit, which have a lot of vitamin C.
- Other fruits and vegetables—such as broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupe, baked potatoes, and tomatoes—which also have vitamin C.
- Some foods and beverages that are fortified with vitamin C. To find out if vitamin C has been added to a food product, check the product labels.
The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and by cooking. Steaming or microwaving may lessen cooking losses. Fortunately, many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually eaten raw.
The National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements offers this list of foods that are high in vitamin C:
|Food||Serving size||Vitamin C content (micrograms [mcg])||% Daily Value|
|Sweet red pepper, raw||½ cup||95||158|
|Orange juice||¾ cup||93||155|
|Grapefruit juice||¾ cup||70||117|
|Green pepper, raw||½ cup||60||100|
|Broccoli, cooked||½ cup||51||85|
|Strawberries, fresh||½ cup||49||82|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||½ cup||48||80|
|Broccoli, raw||½ cup||39||65|
|Tomato juice||¾ cup||33||55|
|Cabbage, cooked||½ cup||28||47|
|Cauliflower, raw||½ cup||26||43|
|Potato, baked||1 medium||17||28|
|Tomato, raw||1 medium||17||28|
|Spinach, cooked||½ cup||9||15|
|Green beans, cooked||½ cup||8||13|
One great advantage of getting vitamin C from foods rather than from supplements is that you will get many other potentially healthful nutrients at the same time, such as bioflavonoids and carotenes.
Disease Prevention and Risk Reduction
Vitamin C captures free radicals in the blood and other bodily fluids, such as lung and eye fluids. When included in the diet, vitamin C also protects against damage in the fluid-filled areas of the body like the heart and arteries.
Vitamin C works quicker than other antioxidants.
Curtails the affects of aging.
Researchers in a national survey did a study of vitamin C intakes and death rate in 11,348 people, ages 25 to 74 years old, over a period of 10 years. The study found that in men and women, getting about 300 mg a day from food and supplements, had much lower death rates from heart disease than those with low intakes. Men had a 42 percent lower death rate from heart disease and women had a 25 percent lower death rate. Even taking less than 50 mg a day, women still had a 10 percent lower death rate and men had a 6 percent lower death rate.
Vitamin C is recognized by researchers for its ability to protect against stomach cancer.
Signs of Deficiency
- Swollen Gums
- Scurvy results from severe vitamin C deficiency
According to Robert P. Jenkins, Ph. D, Professor of Biology at Ithaca College in New York, the recommended daily value of 60 mg is inadequate. He says taking 500 mg twice a day will keep the body’s stores at optimal levels. He notes that staying below 1000 mg is best to keep it from interfering with other nutrients in the body.
Alfred Ordman, Ph. D., Professor of Biochemistry at Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, encourages smokers and anyone that is around smokers to take enough vitamin C. He says it takes 20 mg of vitamin C to squelch free-radical effects of just one cigarette.
Yeager, Selene. Prevention’s New Foods for Healing: Capture the Powerful Cures of More than 100 Common Foods. Emmaus, PA: Rodale, 1998. Print.