Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is essential for skin health, immune function, and cell repair (1, 2, 3). It’s a powerful antioxidant that offsets free radicals (4). This nutrient is especially necessary for skin repair and rejuvenation (5). The skin goes through normal wear and tear from environmental factors, and it’s responsible for acting as a protective barrier against toxins (6).
This nutrient also plays a critical role in sunburn prevention and protection (5, 6). Sunscreen is still a necessity, but vitamin C therapy is a promising addition to sunburn treatment. Although the skin may not be portrayed as a top priority for human health, it’s the largest organ of the body (7).
Vitamin C also plays a large role in iron absorption (8, 9). Those who are anemic or low in iron can benefit from eating vitamin-C rich foods with iron-rich foods to promote better absorption. Another health benefit of Vitamin C is it helps synthesize collagen in the body (10).
Summary: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a powerful antioxidant that helps with skin health, immune function, cell repair, and helps the body absorb iron.
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Foods high in Vitamin C
Humans are unable to synthesize vitamin C (11, 12), so it’s important to get adequate vitamin C from food, and supplements can be helpful for many situations. Make sure to add a healthy dose of vitamin C-rich foods to your daily diet to boost immunity, improve skin health, and enhance cellular absorption of this crucial vitamin. See what vitamin C foods you can add to your diet today.
Green, yellow, and red peppers are all extremely high in beneficial vitamin C (13). One sweet green pepper contains 67 percent of the daily recommended allowance. Even hot green chili peppers have high levels of vitamin C (14). Peppers are naturally anti-inflammatory (15), so they can help slow tumor progression and even promote a healthy hearty (16).
Peppers are a night-shade vegetable, along with tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant. For that reason, they may not be the ideal vegetable choice for everyone. Although nightshades are high in nutrients, there is some evidence they can be harmful to those with compromised immune systems, such as auto-immune diseases (17, 18).
One way to tell if peppers are good for your body is to try an elimination diet. Eliminate all night-shade vegetables for 30-60 days and introduce one into your diet at a time. That way, you’ll be able to tell if you have a negative reaction to a specific vegetable. See if peppers are good for you to start consuming in your routine.
Summary: Green, yellow, red, and even hot green chili peppers are all high in vitamin C. One sweet green pepper has 67% of the daily recommended allowance. They are naturally anti-inflammatory, nutritious, and delicious. They are considered a night-shade vegetable, which may increase symptoms in those with autoimmune issues.
Oranges and orange juice are extremely high in vitamin C (19). An orange a day can help to keep your immune system healthy and functioning optimally (20). Oranges contain over 100 percent of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C.
They also contain high amounts of thiamine, folate, and potassium, which are all essential to hormone synthesis in the body (21). Oranges help to keep blood pressure healthy, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar levels, and they can reduce the risk of many cancers (22, 23).
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in most countries. Functional foods such as oranges and orange juice make up a portion of the foods essential to cancer prevention and optimal health (24, 25). Nutrition is related to nearly 30 percent of all cancer cases (26). The phytonutrients and nutrients in orange help to decrease oxidative damage in the body (27). Try to add some oranges into your regular diet to benefit from the potent nutritional power it has on the body.
Summary: Oranges are extremely high in vitamin C, containing over 100% of the daily recommended allowance. Orange and orange juice also contain thiamine, folate, and potassium, which help with hormone synthesis, healthy blood pressure, lower cholesterol, balanced blood sugar, and can significantly reduce risk of cancer.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice is an excellent source of vitamin C (28). Just ¾ cup of grapefruit juice has 70 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s 78 percent of the daily recommended allowance. Grapefruit is extremely low in calories and high in powerful nutrients. Because grapefruit is so high in nutrients, it can help with appetite control, and it could reduce the risk of kidney stones (29, 30).
They have a strong bitter-sweet taste, so they may not be a favorite for some people, especially kids. One way to enjoy grapefruit without the bitterness is to add a tsp. of sugar to a piece of fruit. This is a great way to get your child to reap the benefits of grapefruit instead of filling up on unhealthy sugary snacks.
Grapefruit also goes well in many recipes to contrast flavors. For example, grapefruit with sardines can mix well, because the fishiness of the sardines balances out the bitterness from the grapefruit. Try grapefruit and sardines on a bed of your favorite greens or endives, mixed with red onions, salt, and pepper for a new recipe.
Summary: Just 3/4 cup of grapefruit juice contains 70 milligrams of vitamin C, or 78% of the daily recommended allowance. Grapefruit has a powerful combination of nutrients that helps with appetite control, reduced risk of kidney stones, and much more. Add a touch of sugar to curb the strong bitter-sweet taste, or pair it with a strong savory flavor such as sardines or leafy greens.
One medium kiwi contains 64 milligrams of vitamin C (31). Kiwis are naturally super sweet and a favorite among many. Kiwi is rich in fiber, which can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and much more (32, 33). The skin of the kiwifruit is highly nutritious, contrary to what you may have thought (34). It’s easier to eat a kiwi with the skin, too. Since they’re so tiny, you get a lot more out of a kiwi by consuming it like you would an apple. Just make sure you wash your kiwi thoroughly and opt for organic if you can.
Kiwi is a common high-allergen food (35), so it’s important to know the risks if you try kiwi for the first time. If you feel any kind of itchiness in your throat or discomfort when eating kiwi, you may have an allergy to it.
Summary: Kiwi is highly nutritious, containing 64 milligrams of vitamin C in one medium serving. It also contains fiber, especially when eaten with the skin. Make sure to wash it thoroughly before eating the entire kiwi and opt for organic if you can. Kiwi is a common food allergen, so make sure to pay attention to your reaction to kiwi if it’s your first time trying it.
Strawberries are full of beneficial vitamin C (36). Just a ½ cup of strawberries contains 49 milligrams of vitamin C. They are also one of the easiest fruits to incorporate in your diet because they are naturally sweet and delicious. Strawberries contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties making them extremely helpful for optimal functioning in the body (37).
They’re also high in manganese, folate, potassium, which makes them a heart-healthy super fruit (38). Strawberries are low in sugar, so they’re an excellent choice for those with diabetes. This popular fruit is great to add to smoothies and many breakfasts like cereal, oatmeal, and more.
As one of the most versatile fruits out there, strawberries are easy to add to any of your favorite meals. You can even make your juice with just three ingredients. All you need are frozen strawberries, water, and an orange for a delicious and refreshing juice full of nutrition.
Summary: Strawberries are extremely nutritious, containing 49 milligrams of vitamin C per 1/2 cup serving. They are also high in manganese, folate, and potassium, and lower in sugar. This powerful fruit can be easily added to smoothies, oatmeal, cereal, salads, or even made into a nutritious juice.
6. Some Cruciferous Vegetables
Cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel sprouts are all high in vitamin C and many essential nutrients (39, 40). Cruciferous vegetables are necessary for optimal cellular function in the body (41). They are also rich in folate, vitamin K, and immune-boosting phytonutrients (42). They help to promote a healthy heart, healthy cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar levels (43). Broccoli contains 51 milligrams in just ½ cup, cauliflower 26 milligrams, cabbage 28 milligrams, and Brussel sprouts 48 milligrams.
There are many easy ways to incorporate these foods into your diet. Cauliflower can transform into a rice substitution, for example. You can even enjoy it as a healthy cauliflower pizza. Another popular cauliflower recipe is a hearty and sweet cauliflower steak.
Broccoli and Brussel sprouts are great in a stir fry with soy sauce or coconut aminos if gluten raises an issue for you. Brussel sprouts and broccoli also accompany fish and chicken dishes nicely. Enjoy cabbage as a bread substitute for a sandwich or ferment cabbage overnight. Cabbage goes well with beef and other meats as well.
Summary: Cruciferous vegetables are very high in vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, and immune-b00sting phytonutrients. Theses nutritional powerhouses are necessary for optimal cell function, heart health, and balanced blood sugar. Broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts all contain between 28-48 milligrams of vitamin C and are highly beneficial to add to your daily diet.
Potatoes are a starchy vegetable most people love. Although potatoes can be unhealthy as French fries, they are also full of beneficial nutrients like vitamin C. Just one baked potato contains 17 milligrams of vitamin C. Baked potatoes are the healthiest way to consume these vegetables. You can also cut potatoes into French fries to bake or air fry them as an alternative.
Potatoes can be a part of a healthy diet mixed with other nutritious high-fiber and protein-rich foods. Don’t be afraid to eat your favorite potato salad or mashed potatoes on occasion to get the many benefits of potatoes.
Summary: Potatoes are a starchy vegetable packed with nutrients, including 17 milligrams of vitamin C in one single baked potato. It’s best to eat them baked, not fried, unless you’re using an air fryer. Try cutting potatoes into wedges, adding oil and seasoning, then baking them as an alternative to French fries.
Tomatoes are another source of vitamin C that’s very common in the American diet, along with many other foods. Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients’ humans need to maintain optimal well-being. There are many foods rich in vitamin C, as well as supplements that are easy to come by. It’s best to consume vitamin C in foods or juice to get the most health benefits, but supplementing can be helpful in certain situations.
When you consume foods rich in vitamin C, you get essential phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory minerals, too. Severe vitamin C deficiency is usually uncommon, and it leads to scurvy, which leads to weak joints, poor wound healing and more.
Vitamin C is also commonly fortified in breakfast cereals and even grains. Make sure you’re getting the right amount of vitamin C for optimal immunity in your diet.