Foods for vitamin c

Contents

Chapter 07: Vitamins

1. A secondary deficiency of a vitamin occurs when
a. dietary intake of two or more vitamins is inadequate.
b. absorption is inadequate or excessive amounts are excreted.
c. dietary intake is less than the physiologic need of the individual.
d. the vitamin deficiency is accompanied by protein-energy malnutrition.
ANS: B
Secondary deficiency of a vitamin occurs when absorption is inadequate or excretion is excessive. Inadequate dietary intake of two or more vitamins causes multiple primary deficiencies. Dietary intake below physiologic needs is primary deficiency. Vitamin deficiency almost always occurs when an individual has protein-energy malnutrition.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 123
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
2. An example of someone who has a relatively high risk for vitamin deficiencies is a(n)
a. teenage competitive athlete.
b. elderly man living independently.
c. college-age girl living with roommates.
d. newborn breastfed infant.
ANS: B
Subgroups of the population at risk for vitamin deficiencies include older adults because of decreased vitamin absorption and limited physical and economic resources to purchase and prepare food. Teenage athletes and college students usually consume enough food to ensure adequate vitamin intake. Vitamin deficiencies are rare among breastfed newborn infants.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Page 123
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
3. Deficiencies are likely to develop most rapidly with low intakes of vitamin
a. A.
b. C.
c. D.
d. E.
ANS: B
Vitamin C is water soluble; vitamins A, D, and E are fat soluble. Deficiencies of water-soluble vitamins develop more rapidly because they are not stored in the body.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Page 125
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
4. The best way to ensure intake of a variety of phytochemicals is to
a. take a daily multivitamin supplement that includes phytochemicals.
b. increase intake of soy-based foods, such as soy milk, tofu, and soy flour.
c. choose whole grains and include at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily.
d. include at least three servings of dairy products daily and use a variety of herbs and spices.
ANS: C
The best way to ensure intake of a variety of phytochemicals is to eat a variety of plant-based foods, including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Multivitamin supplements do not necessarily contain phytochemicals. Soy-based foods contain only a limited selection of phytochemicals. Dairy products do not contain phytochemicals; herbs and spices may provide some but are used in small quantities and so would not provide significant amounts.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Pages 125, 127
TOP: Nursing Process: Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
5. The amount of thiamine that the body needs is related to
a. dietary intake of protein.
b. exposure of the skin to sunlight.
c. the amount of energy expended.
d. physiologic and emotional stress.
ANS: C
Thiamine needs are related to metabolic rate (i.e., energy expenditure) because thiamine is a coenzyme in energy metabolism. Thiamine is not directly involved in protein metabolism. The vitamin where requirements are inversely related to skin exposure to sunlight is vitamin D. Physiologic and emotional stress do not affect thiamine needs.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Page 127
TOP: Nursing Process: Planning MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
6. Deficiency of thiamine is characterized by
a. muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and tachycardia.
b. dermatitis, altered nerve function, and convulsions.
c. skin rash, hair loss, loss of appetite, and depression.
d. gingivitis, poor wound healing, and increased risk of infection.
ANS: A
Symptoms of deficiency of thiamine include muscle weakness, loss of coordination, and tachycardia. Dermatitis, altered nerve function, and convulsions are symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency. Skin rash, hair loss, loss of appetite, and depression are symptoms of biotin deficiency. Gingivitis, poor wound healing, and increased risk of infection are symptoms of vitamin C deficiency
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Pages 127, 130, 134-136
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
7. The riboflavin in milk is protected by
a. pasteurization.
b. homogenization.
c. storing milk under refrigeration.
d. using nontransparent containers.
ANS: D
Riboflavin is destroyed by ultraviolet light, so it is protected by use of nontransparent containers. Pasteurization destroys pathogenic bacteria. Homogenization prevents separation of milk and cream. Refrigerated storage increases the shelf life of milk.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Page 128
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
8. The most significant source of riboflavin in the United States is
a. milk.
b. eggs.
c. meats.
d. whole grains.
ANS: A
The most significant source of riboflavin in the United States is milk. Eggs, meats, and whole grains are all good but lesser sources of riboflavin.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 128
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment, Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
9. Historically, deficiency of niacin was sometimes misdiagnosed as
a. alcoholism.
b. mental illness.
c. viral infection.
d. iron deficiency anemia.
ANS: B
Niacin deficiency was sometimes misdiagnosed as mental illness because of it causes symptoms of dementia. Alcoholism may contribute to niacin deficiency. Niacin deficiency is not generally related to viral infection or iron deficiency anemia.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 129
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Psychosocial integrity
10. Niacin can be manufactured by the body from the amino acid
a. alanine.
b. arginine.
c. tryptophan.
d. phenylalanine.
ANS: C
Niacin can be manufactured by the body from tryptophan, but not from alanine, arginine, or phenylalanine.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 129
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment, Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
11. Pyridoxine functions in the body as a coenzyme in metabolism of
a. fat.
b. protein.
c. carbohydrate.
d. energy.
ANS: B
The active form of pyridoxine, pyridoxal phosphate, functions in the body as a coenzyme in the metabolism of protein and amino acids. It is not involved in metabolism of fat, protein, or energy.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 130
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
12. A disorder in infants that is associated with inadequate intake of folate during pregnancy is
a. spina bifida.
b. cystic fibrosis.
c. Down syndrome.
d. macrocytic anemia.
ANS: A
Inadequate intake of folate during pregnancy is associated with spina bifida in infants. Cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome are genetic disorders. Macrocytic anemia is caused by an overt deficiency of folate, but is not usually found in infants in association with poor maternal intake during pregnancy.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 131
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment, Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity | Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
13. Adequate intake of folic acid is especially important for
a. competitive athletes.
b. infants and young children.
c. women of childbearing age.
d. pregnant and lactating women.
ANS: C
Adequate intake of folic acid is especially important for women of childbearing age because adequate folate status during the first month of pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects (spina bifida). Pregnant and lactating women have higher folic acid needs than nonpregnant women, but it is important to encourage adequate folic acid intake in all women of childbearing age because neural tube defects occur very early in pregnancy, before most women even realize they are pregnant. Competitive athletes, infants, and young children do not have special needs related to folic acid.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Comprehension REF: Page 131
TOP: Nursing Process: Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
14. An example of a high-folate meal is
a. fish, French fries, and coleslaw.
b. spinach salad with orange segments.
c. oatmeal with brown sugar and raisins.
d. pork chops with applesauce.
ANS: B
Good sources of folate include leafy green vegetables (including spinach), legumes, ready-to-eat cereals, and some fruits and juices (including orange). Fish, oatmeal, raisins, pork, and applesauce are not good sources of folate.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Application REF: Page 132
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment, Planning
MSC: Client Needs: Health promotion and maintenance
15. The type of anemia associated with folate deficiency is _____ anemia.
a. microcytic
b. pernicious
c. megaloblastic
d. iron deficiency
ANS: C
The type of anemia associated with folate deficiency is megaloblastic anemia. Microcytic anemia is associated with iron deficiency. Pernicious anemia is associated with vitamin B12 deficiency. Iron deficiency anemia is (as its name suggests) associated with deficiency of iron, not folate.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Pages 132-133, 169
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
16. The substance produced by the stomach that is necessary for absorption of cobalamin is
a. intrinsic factor.
b. pernicious factor.
c. hydrochloric acid.
d. pyridoxal phosphate.
ANS: A
The substance produced by the stomach that is necessary for absorption of cobalamin is intrinsic factor. Pernicious factor does not exist; pernicious anemia is caused by cobalamin deficiency. Hydrochloric acid is produced by the stomach, but is used to activate the enzyme pepsin (which helps digest proteins). Pyridoxal phosphate is the active form of pyridoxine or vitamin B6; it is not produced by the stomach or related to absorption of cobalamin.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Pages 51, 130, 133
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity
17. Deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause damage to the
a. skin.
b. eyes.
c. heart.
d. nerves.
ANS: D
Deficiency of vitamin B12 may cause damage to the brain, optic nerves, and peripheral nerves. Vitamin B12 deficiency is not associated with damage to the skin, eyes, or heart.
DIF: Cognitive Level: Knowledge REF: Page 133
TOP: Nursing Process: Assessment MSC: Client Needs: Physiological integrity

Vitamin C: Why is it important?

Share on PinterestSources of vitamin C include fruits, vegetables, and supplements.

Vitamins, including vitamin C, are organic compounds. An organic compound is one that exists in living things and contains the elements carbon and oxygen.

Vitamin C is water soluble, and the body does not store it. To maintain adequate levels of vitamin C, humans need a daily intake of food that contains it.

Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of bodily functions including the production of collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. It helps metabolize proteins and its antioxidant activity may reduce the risk of some cancers.

Collagen, which vitamin C helps produce, is the main component of connective tissue and the most abundant protein in mammals. Between 1 and 2% of muscle tissue is collagen. It is a vital component in fibrous tissues such as:

  • tendons
  • ligaments
  • skin
  • cornea
  • cartilage
  • bones
  • the gut
  • blood vessels

In the case of wound healing, research as long ago as 1942 suggested that wounds took longer to heal if someone had scurvy.

Scurvy results from vitamin C deficiency. Its symptoms include swollen joints, bleeding gums and loose teeth, anemia, and tiredness.

Rebound scurvy can happen if a person takes very high doses of vitamin C and then discontinues it quickly.

Wound healing, infections, and tuberculosis

In 1982, researchers concluded that wounds, cuts, and grazes may heal faster in people with a higher intake of vitamin C than is usually available from their food. This may be because vitamin C contributes to collagen production.

The role of vitamin C as an antioxidant also helps repair tissue and reduce damage from inflammation and oxidation.

People with adequate levels of vitamin C are thought to be better able to fight off infections compared to people with vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C may also help prevent acute respiratory infections, especially in people with malnutrition and those who are physically stressed.

Researchers have also found that vitamin C can kill drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) bacteria in a laboratory culture. A study published in 2013 suggests that adding vitamin C to TB drugs could shorten therapy.

Vitamin C and cancer therapy

Vitamin C may help in treating cancer. As an antioxidant, it protects the body against oxidative stress and helps prevent the oxidation of other molecules. It appears to regenerate other antioxidants in the body, too.

Share on PinterestStudies suggest that vitamin C may complement chemotherapy for cancer patients.

Oxidation reactions produce free radicals. Free radicals can start chain reactions that damage cells.

High doses of vitamin C have been found to reduce the speed of growth of some types of cancerous tissue. Researchers have proposed using vitamin C in cancer patients whose treatment options are limited.

More studies are needed to understand which cancers could be affected by vitamin C and which other effective treatments can be used in conjunction with vitamin C, as well as the long-term effects of this approach.

Some scientists have disputed the use of vitamin C in cancer treatment.

In 2013, however, researchers found evidence that high doses of intravenous vitamin C might benefit cancer patients. A 2015 study confirmed its effectiveness.

The National Cancer Institute report several studies that used high dose vitamin C intravenously with few side effects.

A number of doctors support it and are already using it in treatment.

“Research currently underway has shown that high concentrations of vitamin C can stop the growth, or even kill a wide range of cancer cells. Only intravenous administration of vitamin C can deliver the high doses found to be effective against cancer.”

Dr. Ronald Hoffman

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved the use of intravenous vitamin C in treatment of cancer patients, including those undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and it is not recognized as a treatment.

Other benefits

Other benefits of Vitamin C may include the following:

  • Cardiovascular health: Vitamin C may widen the blood vessels, and this could help protect against heart disease and hypertension, or high blood pressure.
  • Cholesterol levels: These were found to be lower in individuals with adequate levels of vitamin C.
  • Cataracts: Vitamin C may help lower the risk of cataracts as well as of age-related macular degeneration.
  • Diabetes: Patients are less likely to experience deterioration of the kidneys, eyes, and nerves if they eat plenty of fruit and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C.
  • Anemia: Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron.
  • Lead levels may be reduced if there is an adequate intake of vitamin C.
  • Histamine: Histamine is a substance the immune system produces, resulting in inflammation and other problems. A 1992 study found lower blood levels of histamine in people who took 2 grams (g) of vitamin C per day.
  • Seasickness: In a study of 70 people who took either 2 g of vitamin C or a placebo and then spent 20 minutes on a life raft in a wave pool, those who took the supplement had reduced levels of seasickness.

Can vitamin C treat the common cold?

Many people believe that vitamin C can cure a common cold, but research has not confirmed this. However, large doses of vitamin C may protect people who are exposed to severe physical activity and cold temperatures.

People with low vitamin C, because of smoking or older age, for example, may find supplements beneficial.

Uses & Benefits

Ascorbic acid is a nutrient that the human body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. An antioxidant, ascorbic acid can help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals —unstable molecules that can damage cells. It also helps prevent and treat scurvy.

According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, ascorbic acid can help the human body fight bacterial infections and help form collagen, an important protein in fibrous tissue, teeth, bones, skin and capillaries.

Food and Beverages

Vitamin C occurs naturally in many fresh fruits and vegetables, from oranges and grapefruits to broccoli, Brussel sprouts and tomatoes. In these foods however, vitamins can be diminished by heat, boiling water or air.

Many foods are fortified with ascorbic acid to help replenish vitamin C content that may be lost in these ways. Ascorbic acid is often added to fruit juices, cereals, fruit-flavored candies, dried fruit, cured meats and frozen fruits, to fortify or add a citrus flavor.

Ascorbic acid also acts as a preservative to keep food such as bread, cured meats, jams and jellies, from spoiling.

Personal Care Products & Cosmetics

Cosmetics and other personal care products may include less acidic forms of ascorbic acid, such as calcium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, sodium ascorbate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate, which act as antioxidants to slow deterioration of the finished product caused by exposure to the air and also to control the pH of the product.

Industrial/Manufacturing Uses

Ascorbic acid is used in a range of industrial and manufacturing applications, including as a developing agent and preservative in photo production, and in water purification, where it is used to help remove the taste of iodine in sterilized, potable water. Scientists also use ascorbic acid in fluorescence microscopy, an essential tool to understanding cell biology. In this application, ascorbic acid helps increase fluorescence, making cells more visible to researchers. In plastic manufacturing, ascorbic acid helps bring about the chemical reaction that makes plastic.

The Top Foods High in Vitamin C — and Why the Nutrient Is So Critical

Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Györgyi discovered vitamin C in the 1930s — hundreds of years after more than two million sailors died of a gruesome disease that they likely could have staved off by having more fruits and veggies on board. According to the American Chemical Society, that would be scurvy, a disease that at the time was not known to be caused by a deficiency in ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, which is found in most produce.

But why is vitamin C so important? Marisa Moore, RDN, who’s based in Atlanta, says the vitamin plays a critical role in maintaining tissues, keeping bones healthy, and protecting cells and blood vessels from damage.

“Vitamin C is a nutrient we need for so many processes in the body,” she says. “And it’s one of those essential vitamins we can’t make in our bodies.”

RELATED: 7 Common Nutrient Deficiencies and Their Signs

Because of its powerful antioxidant properties, vitamin C can help regenerate cells, support the immune system, and help the body absorb iron, according to the National Institute of Health (NIH) Office of Dietary Supplements. Other touted benefits of vitamin C may include reducing the risk of heart disease, helping stave off memory conditions like dementia, and protecting against eye diseases including macular degeneration.

Without vitamin C, your body literally falls apart. According to the Science History Institute, back when vitamin C deficiency was a more prevalent issue, it caused people’s gums to bleed and teeth to fall out. The deficiency also caused internal hemorrhaging that eventually led to death. When physicians realized citrus fruits had a role in preventing scurvy, ships were stocked with lime juice. (This is how the term “limey” was coined.)

Don’t worry — the chances of you getting scurvy in today’s age are slim to none. It’s something, at least in developed nations, that we really don’t think about because vitamin C is in so many of the foods we eat daily. There are also plenty of vitamin C supplements out there, but Moore recommends getting nutrients from whole foods. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements, and the agency notes they’re different from drugs in that they aren’t “intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases.”

Studies on vitamin C supplements are limited, but research has shown that ingesting foods with naturally occurring ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is preferable to supplements, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. And if you’re already getting vitamin C from food, taking supplements may or may not be beneficial because any excess vitamin C is excreted from the body in the urine.

RELATED: 7 Popular Supplements With Hidden Dangers

What Foods Are the Highest in Vitamin C?

The Office of Dietary Supplements notes vitamin C must be ingested to receive its benefits. Luckily, there are tons of different foods to choose from that are chock-full of vitamin C. Some, like red bell peppers for example, can provide more than 100 percent of your vitamin C intake for the day, says Moore.

“People should always begin with a diet high in fruits and vegetables,” says Michael Wald, MD, a registered dietitian in Katonah, New York, and host of the radio show Ask The Blood Detective. “Age, genetics, absorption, disease, exercise, stress, sleep, alcohol, and various other lifestyle factors all play a role in the amount of vitamin C one needs.”

Note that cooking can also affect the nutrient content of foods. Because vitamin C is heat sensitive and water soluble, the longer you cook a food with vitamin C, the more C it loses, notes an article published in April 2018 in the journal Food Science and Biotechnology. The authors noted that microwaving a food with vitamin C led to better retention of the nutrient than boiling. If you can eat foods high in vitamin C raw, even better.

RELATED: 4 Essential Vitamins for Digestive Health

Vegetables and Herbs That Provide Vitamin C

Here are some of the foods recommended by the NIH that contain vitamin C, as well as flavonoids and bioflavonoids (powerful antioxidants found in fruits and veggies) that work with vitamin C. All recommended daily values (DV) are found in the NIH Dietary Supplement Label Database. Below, find their vitamin C content and DVs:

  • Red and Green Chili Peppers One red chili pepper contains 64.7 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, or slightly more than 100 percent of the DV.
  • Bell Peppers A 1-cup portion of chopped red bell peppers has 190 mg of vitamin C, or 211 percent of the DV.
  • Parsley and Thyme One teaspoon of thyme, for example, has 1.3 mg of vitamin C, or 1.4 percent of the DV.
  • Dark Green Leafy Vegetables This includes garden cress, kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and broccoli. For example, 1 stalk of broccoli (about 1 2/3 cups) has 134 mg of vitamin C, or 148 percent of the DV.
  • Potatoes 1 medium-sized potato contains 42 mg of vitamin C, or 70 percent of the DV.

Fruits That Are High in Vitamin C

  • Kiwi One kiwi has 72 mg of vitamin C, 80 percent of the DV.
  • Guava One guava fruit has 125 mg of vitamin C, or 139 percent of the DV.
  • Blackberries One cup of blackberries has 30 mg of vitamin C, or 33 percent of the DV.
  • Papaya One large papaya has 475 mg of vitamin C, which is 527 percent of the DV.
  • Lemons and Limes One lime has 19 mg of vitamin C, or 21 percent of the DV.
  • Strawberries One cup of sliced strawberries has 97 mg of vitamin C, or 107 percent of the DV.
  • Oranges One orange has 112 mg of vitamin C, or 124 percent of the DV.

RELATED: 5 Tricks for Getting Enough Fruit and Veggies

What Is the Recommended Daily Allowance of Vitamin C?

It’s pretty much impossible to overdose on vitamin C, and it’s almost equally difficult to be vitamin C deficient, unless you live somewhere with little access to fruits and vegetables. Moore says at the very minimum your body needs 10 mg of vitamin C per day, but the recommended daily allowance (RDA) will vary depending on age, gender, age, and lifestyle choices like smoking.

According to an earlier report published by the U.S. Food and Nutrition Board, infants up to 6 months old should get at least 40 mg, children between 4 and 8 years should get 25 mg, teens between ages 14 and 18 should have around 75 mg for boys and 65 mg for girls, and among people ages 19 and older, the RDA is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women. Some people need extra vitamin C, like smokers, who should get an additional 35 mg per day. Pregnant women need 85 mg, and lactating women require 120 mg of vitamin C.

The Office of Dietary Supplements also lists certain groups of people who have a higher risk for vitamin C deficiency. Research, like one study published in September 2017 in the journal Nutrients, has shown smokers have lower vitamin C levels compared with nonsmokers; therefore, they need a little extra in their diet. Infants who are fed evaporated or boiled milk, both of which are deficient in vitamin C, may not be getting enough of the nutrients they need. Medical conditions that cause malabsorption and certain chronic diseases may reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin C, increasing the amount the body needs, according to the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders.

As a reminder, Dr. Wald says the RDA is the minimum amount needed to prevent vitamin C deficiency, and isn’t necessarily representative of the ideal vitamin C value each person needs.

RELATED: Can Vitamin C Cure a Spring Cold?

What Does Science Say about Vitamin C for Specific Health Conditions?

There’s no disputing vitamin C is a vital compound needed for the healthy functioning of our bodies. There is an ever-growing list of afflictions and conditions vitamin C is suggested to improve or prevent, but not all are backed by science, including:

  • Neurodegenerative Diseases This includes conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Huntington’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. In a review published in July 2017 in the journal Nutrients that looked at the literature on vitamin C and neurodegenerative diseases, scientists found promising results using vitamin C to treat neurological diseases in animal studies, but human studies are both limited and lacking in evidence. Many studies also used vitamin C supplements to evaluate the effects, and not vitamin C from food.
  • Various Cancers While the National Cancer Institute notes that intravenous-administered high-dose vitamin C may help improve the quality of life of cancer patients, vitamin C as a cancer treatment isn’t approved by the FDA. A study published in July 2018 in the International Journal of Cancer surveyed 182,000 women over 24 years and found that breast cancer risk for those who consumed more than 5.5 servings of fruits and veggies daily dropped by 11 percent. While there is an association between eating lots of fruit and veggies and having a reduced risk of cancer, there’s no direct link to vitamin C as a cancer treatment yet.
  • Eye Issues, Like Cataracts and Macular Degeneration Studies, such as one published in June 2013 in the journal Clinical Interventions in Aging, have shown nutrients like vitamin C and E may play a role in preventing age-related eye disease. The eye has a high metabolic rate, which causes the production of harmful free radicals that damage cells in the body. The prevailing theory is that because vitamin C is such an effective antioxidant — a protector of the body’s molecules — it may play a role in fighting off free radicals that lead to eye disease, per the June 2013 study.
  • Psychiatric Disorders, Including Depression and Anxiety Several smaller scale studies have shown an association between vitamin C and its positive effects on mood and related disorders, such as depression and anxiety. This includes a study published in July 2018 in the journal Antioxidants, which found that study participants with higher levels of vitamin C in their system reported having a brighter mood. Because vitamin C helps maintain organs like the brain, the study notes there are “biological justification for a positive effect of vitamin C on mood,” but more research is needed to prove that vitamin C can beat the blues.
  • Common Cold How many times have you been told to take vitamin C when you’re sick? When you feel the flu coming on, Moore says gulping down a bunch of vitamin C supplements probably won’t do much to prevent it.

“Vitamin C might help to decrease the duration of a cold, but taking it preventively — the research doesn’t necessarily support that,” she says. A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that high doses of vitamin C may reduce the duration of a cold, but did not have an impact on preventing or reducing the symptoms of a cold.

One thing Moore says there is evidence for is vitamin C does help the body absorb more iron from food, especially nonheme iron from meat-free food sources. Pairing vitamin C–rich foods with iron-rich foods — for example, spinach with orange segments, or black beans with salsa — is especially important for people who are vegan, vegetarian, or anemic, and for women of childbearing age, Moore says.

RELATED: 10 Foods That May Help Prevent Cancer

A Bonus Potential Benefit of Vitamin C? Younger, Healthier Skin

There is also a case for vitamin C keeping you looking young and vital. Per a review published in August 2017 in the journal Nutrients, vitamin C helps stimulate the production of collagen — a protein that helps keep your skin firm and full. Diets rich in vitamin C are likely to have other positive benefits for the skin too. Some benefits noted in the study included reducing the formation of scars, preventing wrinkles, and maintaining overall health of your skin.

While vitamin C creams and serums are available as well, the review study found that “delivery of vitamin C into the skin via topical application remains challenging.” The study noted any potential benefits of applying vitamin C to the skin were creams that also contain vitamin E.

At my first job out of college, I had a boss who ate a whole grapefruit for breakfast every morning, without fail. I always knew that grapefruit was good for you, but I couldn’t understand how she didn’t get bored. I still don’t completely get it, but now that I know more about nutrition, I see why she would make a point of having a grapefruit every day.

Grapefruit is one of the best fruit sources of vitamin C, with about 88 milligrams of the good stuff. And, because this important vitamin is water soluble, it is important to get it from food (or drink) daily. Water soluble vitamins don’t stick around very long in our bodies. The body absorbs what it needs at the time, and the rest is washed away in your urine. (Fat soluble vitamins last much longer.)

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which means it could help fight the free radical damage in your body. This vitamin is also associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and cataracts, according to a 1999 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

A study this year in the same journal found that vitamin C might also help reduce blood pressure, in addition to the myriad of other health benefits. It’s important to note that this study didn’t control for other factors, such as blood pressure medication, so more research must be done. Still, it probably wouldn’t hurt to get a little more vitamin C in your diet.

Here are some tips for getting the most vitamin C out of your daily diet:

  • Eat your fruits and veggies raw whenever possible. When you cook them, youstrip the food of some of its vital nutrients. Cooking especially affects water soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C.
  • Keep a bowl of vitamin-C rich fruit in the house for snaking. A grapefruit for breakfast is not a bad idea. You may also consider eating more oranges, mangos and kiwifruit.
  • Have a light lunch with a side of crudité. Raw broccoli and red peppers are extremely high in this powerful antioxidant.
  • Eat more fermented vegetables. One serving of kimchi (a traditional Korean recipe made of fermented cabbage) provides about half of your recommended daily value of vitamin C. Sauerkraut is also a good option; just be sure to buy it in the refrigerated section. In addition to vitamin C and other vitamins, kimchi and sauerkraut also contain gut-strengthening probiotics.

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

You already know that citrus fruits like oranges and lemons contain lots of vitamin C. But if you’re looking to increase your intake, you might be surprised to learn there are plenty of other fruits and vegetables that contain the nutrient. In fact, many other food sources of vitamin C contain much more than an orange. In this article, we look at some lesser-known vitamin C rich foods, with some helpful tips on how to get more of them into your diet.

How much vitamin C do you need each day?

Before we dive in, a quick reminder. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, helping to support the immune system and overall health . Adults are recommended to get around 90mg of vitamin C each day, and not to exceed 2,000mg. As it is not stored in the body, it’s unlikely that exceeding this dose will cause too much harm. However, taking extreme doses may cause issues such as an upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. Megadoses of vitamin C may also contribute to headaches . Still, you need to ensure you get at least the minimum amount; it’s about finding the right balance. So, how do you get enough C? Let’s take a look at some foods with a high vitamin C content.

Which foods are high in vitamin C?

Ever wonder how to get more vitamin C? A healthy diet is crucial, but knowing the right foods to eat isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Here are ten foods you may not realize are rich in vitamin C.

1. Red and green peppers

Sweet and crunchy bell peppers are a fantastic source of vitamin C; one portion can contain as much as double that of a large Florida orange (which contains around 68mg) .

How much vitamin C do they contain? One cup of chopped green peppers contains around 120mg of vitamin C , with the same serving of red peppers providing about 190mg . How to get the maximum benefit: Throw sliced peppers into a salad or a stir-fry for an easy way to up your intake. For a more adventurous recipe, try stuffing halved peppers with rice or couscous and roasting in an oven. Or try our delicious roasted red pepper dip; a perfect accompaniment to sticks of veg for a healthy snack.

2. Potatoes

Despite being a starchy vegetable, potatoes are actually a great source of vitamin C. Because they’re a carbohydrate, many people think too many potatoes are bad for them. But when cooked in a healthy way and eaten as part of a balanced diet, they can provide a great boost to your vitamin C levels. How much vitamin C do they contain? One large potato has about 72mg of vitamin C . How to get the maximum benefit: Boiling or frying has been shown to result in a loss of much of the nutritional content. Baking a potato with the skin on is seen as the best way to retain the vitamins within . Serve with a healthy topping of your choice, such as a hearty chili con carne.

3. Sweet potato

A sweet potato has long been a healthy alternative to unhealthy fried potato products. And it turns out that these vegetables are also a good source of vitamin C. How much vitamin C do they contain? One large baked sweet potato can contain around 35mg of vitamin C . How to get the maximum benefit: Bake the sweet potato in its skin and serve with meat or fish and vegetables of your choice.

4. Cantaloupe melon

Melons are a tasty and nutritious fruit group, but cantaloupes are the most beneficial in terms of providing you with a vitamin C intake.

How much vitamin C do they contain? One large wedge of cantaloupe melon can provide you with around 37mg . How to get the maximum benefit: Simply slice a large cantaloupe into wedges and enjoy for breakfast, or as a tasty snack that’s great for all the family.

5. Cabbage

Another type of vegetable that packs a good punch of vitamin C is cabbage. How much vitamin C does it contain? One cup of raw shredded red cabbage provides around 40mg of vitamin C , while the same quantity of shredded savoy cabbage contains about 21mg . How to get the maximum benefit: Serve steamed (rather than boiled) cabbage as an accompaniment to evening meals. Steaming retains the nutrients better than boiling , so try to steam vegetables where possible. Or eat raw shredded cabbage in a slaw that can be added to salads or served as a side dish.

6. Broccoli

Like cabbage, broccoli provides a healthy boost of vitamin C, making it a great option for almost any meal. How much vitamin C does it contain? Just one cup of chopped broccoli contains around 80mg , while one stalk of the vegetable will provide about 134mg. How to get the maximum benefit: Steam the broccoli to retain the vitamin C as possible12, and serve as an accompaniment to meals. Or throw spears of broccoli into a stir-fry for some additional crunch.

7. Kiwifruit

While citrus fruits are the most commonly known vitamin C sources, kiwifruit provides more than the likes of oranges or lemons. How much vitamin C do they contain? One kiwi provides around a 64mg , over two thirds of your recommended daily value. How to get the maximum benefit: Slice off the top and scoop out the flesh as a tasty snack, or peel off the skin and slice the kiwi before adding to a fruit salad for a healthy dessert.

8. Chili peppers

Earlier, we mentioned the healthy vitamin C content of bell peppers. If you like a bit of spice, you’ll be pleased to learn that chili peppers also contain a good amount of C. How much vitamin C do they contain? One red chili pepper will provide you with about 65mg . How to get the maximum benefit: Add sliced chili peppers to curries, stir-fries or soups for a kick of spicy heat.

9. Guava

Guava is another fruit that offers a high vitamin C content, making it a great alternative to oranges and other citrus fruits. How much vitamin C do they contain? One guava (excluding refuse) contains around 125mg . How to get the maximum benefit: Pretty much all the guava can be eaten, including the skin. Slice up and enjoy as a snack. If you prefer, you can also remove the skin and just eat the flesh within.

10. Brussels sprouts

Traditionally seen gracing the table on the holiday season, Brussels sprouts are more than just an accompaniment to Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners. They also happen to be an excellent source of vitamin C. How much vitamin C do they contain? A cup of raw Brussels sprouts will provide you with just under 75mg of vitamin C – more than three quarters of your daily value. How to get the maximum benefit: Steam the sprouts and serve with roast meat, or for an alternative texture, try pan frying or roasting in a little oil. They make a great accompaniment to a Thanksgiving meal, too!

Give your body additional immune support

Diet is essential for ensuring that your immune system is in check. Make sure you eat fruits and vegetables that are rich in vitamin C on a regular basis to reap the benefits. You can also take a vitamin C supplement to get your required amount.

Try Airborne® Zesty Orange Effervescent Tablets to give yourself peace of mind that you’re getting an adequate daily intake*.

*THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN EVALUATED BY THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION. THESE PRODUCTS ARE NOT INTENDED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, CURE OR PREVENT DISEASE.

Citrus fruits are a common source of vitamin C.

What does vitamin C do?

Vitamin C is important for:

  • keeping your skin, bones and connective tissue healthy
  • helping wounds heal
  • helping prevent infections
  • helping you absorb iron from your food

Sources of vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in many different fruits and vegetables, including:

  • blackcurrants
  • citrus fruits – oranges, limes and lemons
  • berries
  • kiwifruit
  • tomatoes
  • broccoli
  • sprouts
  • red, yellow and green capsicum

Cutting and heating foods changes vitamin C and makes it less effective. So it helps to eat fruits and vegetables raw, or lightly cooked, and don’t cut them too long before eating them.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your diet.

Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency may lead to a skin condition called scurvy Scurvy was common centuries ago, but is now rare because fresh food is nearly always available.

Vitamin C deficiency diagnosis

If your doctor suspects you have a vitamin C deficiency because of your diet or symptoms, which would be very rare in a healthy person, they may ask you to have a blood test to check your vitamin C levels.

Who is at risk of vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency is rare, but people at a higher risk include those who:

  • find it difficult to maintain a healthy diet of fresh fruit and vegetables (e.g. elderly people, low-income households, people with an eating disorder)
  • smoke heavily or are dependent on alcohol or drugs
  • have a health condition that makes it difficult to digest food, such as coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease

Do I need vitamin C supplements?

Lots of people take vitamin supplements, but there is no good evidence that they help unless you have a deficiency. Australia’s best guide to how to eat healthily – the Australian Dietary Guidelines – doesn’t recommend them. There is no good evidence vitamin C supplements help prevent or treat colds.

Vitamin supplements are expensive. They are best taken only on a doctor’s advice.

Most people get the vitamins they need from a healthy diet, which has a wide variety of foods, including:

  • plenty of vegetables, of different types and colours, and legumes/beans
  • fruit
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain, and/or high cereal fibre varieties such as breads, cereals, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
  • milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their alternatives, mostly reduced fat

Vitamin C deficiency treatment

Health experts usually recommend that you get vitamin C from your diet, but in some cases your doctor may suggest you take vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C supplements can cause abdominal pain and diarrhoea.

Top 6 Vitamin-C Rich Foods

The fact that vitamin C must be an essential part of our diet, is common knowledge. It is one of those things that we all know about, like the importance of remaining hydrated and having plenty of water. But dig a little deeper than that and you may realize that we don’t really know why we need it, what are vitamin C rich foods and how much of it do we really need?
“There are many benefits of vitamin C. It is an essential nutrient because we lack the capacity to synthesize it. It protects our bones, helps in building our tissues and is an important factor in the absorption of iron. It is also a very potent antioxidant. You must make sure that your get your daily dose of vitamin C as it is a water soluble vitamin and not much of it is stored in the body,” says Dr Rupali Dutta, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis-Escorts Hospital.
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for our body due to the lack of our body’s capacity to synthesize it.
Benefits of Vitamin C
Also known as L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for human beings. Below are some of its many benefits: 1. Prevention of Scurvy: Though it is a rare disease now, at one point, Scurvy was a real threat and common amongst sailors who spent long periods of time at sea. When the fresh produce ran out, the sailors suffered Vitamin C deficiency which led to Scurvy.
2. Treatment of common cold: Known to boost immunity, this is the most well-known benefit of Vitamin C. Though it may not help prevent cold, it can reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the same.
3. Antioxidant: In layman terms, an antioxidant helps keep harmful chemical reactions within our body in check. These reactions can do damage to our eyes and many other things. Antioxidants act as a neutralizer and help the body maintain status quo.
4. Absorption of Iron: Vitamin C aids the absorption of iron in the body. Thus, one should try to pair iron-rich foods with those packed with Vitamin C to get the maximum benefit. The vitamin transforms iron into a state which is more easily absorbed by the intestines.
5. Collagen: Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen, which literally keeps us ‘intact’. Patients suffering from Scurvy, lose teeth, the strength in their bones, etc.
6. Brain Health: Surprisingly, Vitamin C also helps in making neurotransmitters that carry commands, thoughts and feelings through the nervous system.
7. Anti-depression: Though intake of Vitamin C is not directly linked to upliftment of your mood, it plays an integral role in targeting serotonin, and is essential for your wellbeing.
8. For healthy skin: Vitamin C aids in the creation of scar tissue and ligaments, helping the skin repair itself. Latest research also shows that ascorbic acid 2-phosphate, which is a derivative of vitamin C, plays a role in neutralizing free radicals and also is capable of reversing DNA damage. The vitamin keeps the skin supple and healthy.
Dietary Requirement of Vitamin C
The recommended requirement for Vitamin C in adults is 40mg per day. Excessive intake (more than 1000mg) is also known to have harmful effects and could cause stomach pain and diarrhoea.
Dietary requirements of Vitamin C.
Best Sources of Vitamin C
1) Citrus Fruits: The most common source of Vitamin C is citrus fruits. It is said that one lime or orange per day may be enough for one to get their required dose.
Citrus fruits are the best sources of Vitamin C.
2) Bell Peppers: Whether you are baking an Italian casserole or tossing vegetables in an Asian stir-fry, make sure to add bell peppers for your Vitamin C kick.
Bell peppers
3) Broccoli: This wonder vegetable is a storehouse of benefits. Packed with Vitamin C, include it in your salads.
Broccoli might sound boring, but including it in your diet will definitely boost your health.
4) Papaya: Just half a cup of papaya can give you enough of the vitamin for the entire day. It’s many other benefits are additional motivation to have the fruit.
This one is a powerhouse of nutrients.
5) Strawberries: A bowl of strawberries and cream may be sinful but it is also packed with Vitamin C.
Strawberries have multiple benefits for health and skin.
6) Tomatoes: Eaten raw, tomatoes have plenty of the vitamins. Eat them plain or toss them in a salad, add them into sandwiches or burgers, tomatoes are the most versatile fruit to eat.
Tomatoes are the most versatile fruit to eat.

CommentsHeat causes reduction of Vitamin C in foods and thus try to consume these foods in raw form without cooking them.

There are few vitamins that boast as many health benefits as vitamin C. Doubling as both an essential nutrient and powerful antioxidant, vitamin C can have a huge impact on your health from the inside out — quite literally. In fact, vitamin C works to improve everything from skin health to immune function and just about everything in between. By incorporating just a few servings of vitamin C foods in your diet, it’s simple to take advantage of all the health benefits that this water-soluble vitamin has to offer.

So how much vitamin C do you need per day, and how can you maximize your intake to reap the rewards? Let’s take a closer look.

What Is Vitamin C? Vitamin C’s Role in Body

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in maintaining the health of the body’s connective tissue. Vitamin C can also help protect the health of your heart, repair and restore tissues and boost the absorption of other nutrients in the body.

Found primarily in fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is abundant throughout the diet. A deficiency in this important vitamin can wreak havoc on health, causing symptoms like easy bruising, bleeding gums, fatigue weakened immunity and, in severe cases, scurvy.

Because your body doesn’t store vitamin C or make it on its own, it’s absolutely vital to include plenty of vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables your daily diet. The benefits of vitamin C may include enhanced iron absorption, better immune function, plus a reduced risk of conditions like gout and heart disease.

Top 20 Vitamin C Foods

The best way to meet your vitamin C needs is by incorporating a few foods rich in vitamin C into your diet. So what foods have vitamin C? Here are a few of the top vitamin C superfoods to start stocking up on, according to the USDA national nutrient database, many of which are low in calories but full of nutrients beyond just vitamin C:

  1. Black Currant — 1 cup: 203 milligrams (338 percent DV)
  2. Red Pepper — 1 cup: 190 milligrams (317 percent DV)
  3. Kiwifruit — 1 cup: 164 milligrams (273 percent DV)
  4. Guava — 1 fruit: 126 milligrams (209 percent DV)
  5. Green Bell Pepper — 1 cup: 120 milligrams (200 percent DV)
  6. Orange — 1 large: 98 milligrams (163 percent DV)
  7. Strawberries — 1 cup: 89 milligrams (149 percent DV)
  8. Papaya — 1 cup: 87 milligrams (144 percent DV)
  9. Broccoli — 1 cup, raw: 81 milligrams (135 percent DV)
  10. Kale — 1 cup, raw: 80 milligrams (134 percent DV)
  11. Parsley — 1 cup: 80 milligrams (133 percent DV)
  12. Pineapple — 1 cup: 79 milligrams (131 percent DV)
  13. Brussels Sprouts — 1/2 cup, cooked: 48 milligrams (81 percent DV)
  14. Cauliflower — 1 cup, raw: 46 milligrams (77 percent DV)
  15. Mango — 1 cup: 46 milligrams (76 percent DV)
  16. Lemon — 1 fruit: 45 milligrams (74 percent DV)
  17. Grapefruit — 1/2 fruit: 38 milligrams (64 percent DV)
  18. Honeydew — 1 cup: 32 milligrams (53 percent DV)
  19. Peas — 1 cup, cooked: 23 milligrams (38 percent DV)
  20. Tomatoes — 1 cup, raw: 23 milligrams (38 percent DV)

Related: Tangerine Fruit: Benefits, Nutrition & How It Compares to an Orange

Related: Top 10 Benefits of Romaine Lettuce Nutrition (+ Recipes)

Benefits of Vitamin C Foods

  1. Promotes Healthy Skin
  2. Improves Iron Absorption
  3. Reduces Risk of Gout
  4. Fights Free Radical Damage
  5. Boosts Immune Function
  6. Enhances Cancer Treatment
  7. Supports Heart Health

1. Promote Healthy Skin

Including plenty of vitamin C foods in your diet can help keep your skin glowing, healthy and young. In fact, a major study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition looked at the diets of over 4,000 women and found that consuming more high vitamin C foods was associated with a lower risk of skin wrinkles and dryness. (1) There is also some evidence that using a topical vitamin C serum could decrease the amount of skin redness following UVB exposure and may decrease sunburn cell formation by up to 60 percent. (2)

2. Improve Iron Absorption

Iron is a mineral that is vital to many aspects of health. Most importantly, iron is a major component of the hemoglobin found in your red blood cells and can help supply the cells throughout your body with oxygen. A deficiency in this key mineral can lead to iron-deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by anemia symptoms like weakness, shortness of breath and dizziness.

Consuming vitamin C foods alongside iron can give iron absorption a serious boost to help prevent iron deficiency. In fact, one study actually found that taking 100 milligrams of vitamin C with a meal increased iron absorption by a whopping 67 percent. (3)

3. Reduce Risk of Gout

Gout is a painful form of arthritis that can cause severe redness and tenderness in the joints, especially in the big toe. Although anti-inflammatory medications are often used to relieve symptoms during flare-ups, it’s typically recommended to make long-term diet and lifestyle changes to prevent recurrences of this unpleasant condition.

Adding more foods that contain vitamin C into your diet is an easy and effective way to reduce your risk of gout. According to one massive study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, a high intake of vitamin C was associated with a significantly lower risk of gout. Not only that, but taking at least 1,500 milligrams of supplemental vitamin C each day cut the risk of gout nearly in half. (4)

4. Fight Free Radical Damage

Vitamin C is one of the primary antioxidants that can protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals as well as toxic chemicals and pollutants like cigarette smoke.

Free radicals can build up inside the body and contribute to the development of health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and arthritis. These disease-causing molecules are generated over time due to factors like a poor diet, unhealthy lifestyle, and long-term exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins. (5)

5. Boost Immune Function

For many people, reaching for the high vitamin C foods and supplements is almost second nature when you start feeling under the weather. Rich in antioxidants, the immune-boosting benefits of this powerful vitamin have been well-documented in recent years. In fact, one of the hallmark signs of a vitamin C deficiency is a weakened immune system.

One study out of Switzerland actually found that getting enough vitamin C can help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of respiratory infections, such as the common cold, bronchitis or sinusitis. Plus, it could also improve the outcomes and reduce the incidence of other conditions like pneumonia, malaria and diarrhea infections as well. (6)

6. Enhance Cancer Treatment

Vitamin C is jam-packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants and has been shown to have powerful anticancer properties in both in vitro studies and animal models. (7) Vitamin C foods like lemons and oranges have also been shown to help block the growth and spread of cancer cells and may also be associated with a lower risk of cancer development. (8, 9)

Not only that, but vitamin C may also have some benefits when used alongside traditional cancer treatments as well. According to one large review of 76 studies, administering vitamin C intravenously could improve time to relapse, reduce tumor size, enhance quality of life and decrease symptoms associated with chemotherapy, such as nausea, depression and fatigue. (10)

7. Support Heart Health

Ranking as the leading cause of death, it’s estimated that heart disease accounts for nearly 32 percent of deaths around the world. (11) Switching up your diet and lifestyle is one of the most effective ways to ward off heart disease, and some research even shows that including just a few servings per day of vitamin C rich foods could help reduce several heart disease risk factors to promote heart health.

One large study out of Finland concluded that people who took at least 700 milligrams of vitamin C daily had a 25 percent lower risk of developing heart disease than people who did not take supplemental vitamin C. (12) Similarly, another study showed that taking just 500 milligrams of vitamin C daily significantly reduced both triglycerides and levels of bad LDL cholesterol, two major contributors to heart disease. (13)

Related: Malic Acid Benefits Energy Levels, Skin Health & More

Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms and Causes

There are several different signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, and maintaining low levels of vitamin C long-term can have detrimental effects on health. In fact, a severe vitamin C deficiency can result in scurvy, a disease that causes symptoms like bruising, bleeding gums and fatigue.

Some of the most common symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Slow wound healing
  • Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums)
  • Dry and splitting hair
  • Dry red spots on the skin
  • Rough, dry, scaly skin
  • Nosebleeds
  • Weakened immune system
  • Digestive disorders like leaky gut
  • Possible weight gain because of slowed metabolism
  • Swollen and painful joints

Health problems related to a vitamin C deficiency can get much worse over time and may lead to some serious health issues. Long-term problems from low levels of vitamin C include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Stroke
  • Certain cancers
  • Atherosclerosis

Related: Pawpaw Fruit: 8 Reasons to Add This Antioxidant Powerhouse to Your Diet

Vitamin C Dosage/RDA

So how much vitamin C do you actually need to optimize your health? Your vitamin C requirements vary based on a number of different factors, including age and gender. Vitamin C needs also increase for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding as well as those who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is as follows: (14)

For infants:

  • 0–6 months: 40 mg/day
  • 7–12 months: 50 mg/day

For children:

  • 1–3 years: 15 mg/day
  • 4–8 years: 25 mg/day
  • 9–13 years: 45 mg/day

For adolescents:

  • Girls 14–18 years: 65 mg/day
  • Pregnant teens: 80 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding teens: 115 mg/day
  • Boys 14–18 years: 75 mg/day

For adults:

  • Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
  • Women age 19 years and older: 75 mg/day
  • Pregnant women: 85 mg/day
  • Breastfeeding women: 120 mg/day

Additionally, smokers or those who are exposed to secondhand smoke should increase their daily amount of vitamin C by 35 mg/day to help meet their vitamin C needs.

Although the dosage of vitamin C supplements can widely vary, most supplements generally have a serving size of about 1,000 milligrams per capsule. It’s also present in many multivitamins as well, with doses ranging from 50–100 milligrams. There seems to be no evidence that high levels of vitamin C in supplement form have adverse effects, even at 2,000 milligrams per day, other than a slightly elevated risk of kidney stones. (15, 16)

Vitamin C Foods in Ayurveda and TCM

Vitamin C rich foods have long been recognized for their powerful health-promoting properties. In fact, these super nutritious fruits and vegetables are often considered a staple in many forms of holistic medicine, including Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, for instance, lemons are thought to help clear out toxins, cleanse the body and remove stagnation, while strawberries, on the other hand, quench thirst and clear the throat.

Meanwhile, the Ayurvedic diet promotes eating a good variety of seasonal fruits and veggies to help maximize the nutritional quality of your diet. It’s generally recommended to enjoy vitamin C-rich fruits separately from heavier foods and to always opt for fresh fruits rather than fruit juice whenever possible to optimize your diet and your health.

Vitamin C Foods vs. Vitamin C Supplements

So should you head to the grocery store or the pharmacy to start upping your vitamin C intake? There are several differences that need to be considered between supplements and food sources of this essential vitamin.

In terms of bioavailability, both seem to be roughly equivalent. According to one review published in the journal Nutrients, while some animal studies have shown a difference in the bioavailability of vitamin C foods vs. supplements, human studies have generally found that both are equally absorbed. (17)

However, several studies have found some adverse effects associated with vitamin C supplements but not food sources. For example, one study showed that vitamin C supplementation was associated with a significantly higher risk of kidney stones in men. (18)

Additionally, vitamin C foods are also typically rich in a wide array of other important nutrients, including fiber and antioxidants, as well as other vitamins and minerals. Therefore, it’s best to select natural sources of vitamin C instead of supplemental sources whenever possible to help meet your needs. Not only does this allow you to take advantage of the unique benefits that vitamin C has to offer, but it can also round out your diet with a host of other micronutrients that are essential to health.

How to Get More Vitamin C in Your Diet + How Cooking Foods Affects Vitamin C Content

Getting more vitamin C in your diet can be as simple as including a few extra servings of foods that have vitamin C in your meals each day. By switching up your menu to include more vitamin C rich fruits and veggies, it can be easy (and delicious) to meet your daily needs. Try adding a side salad full of vitamin C vegetables to one meal per day, or swap your sweet snacks for a fresh fruit salad instead.

Keep in mind, however, that it’s best to consume foods high in vitamin C raw instead of cooked whenever possible. Research shows that cooking methods like boiling, simmering, sautéing, stir-frying and poaching can cause significant nutrient losses in foods with vitamin C. For example, one study showed that stir-frying broccoli slashed vitamin C content by 38 percent. (19)

Vitamin C Recipes

Looking for a few creative ways to spice up your meals and amp up your vitamin C intake? Here are a few recipes using some of the foods highest in vitamin C to help you meet your daily needs:

  • Strawberry Kiwi Smoothie
  • Honeydew Sorbet
  • Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples & Pecans
  • Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Ranch
  • Kale Chips

History

Around the 18th century, scurvy became a serious problem faced by the British navy. This condition is caused by a severe deficiency in vitamin C and can cause issues like bleeding gums, bruising and even death. In fact, at one point, scurvy was even considered the leading cause of death among British sailors. (20)

In 1747, James Lind began conducting experiments aboard a British naval ship and is credited with the discovery that lemons could aid in the treatment of scurvy, thanks to their vitamin C content. In the years that followed, foods with vitamin C, such as lemons and limes, became staple ingredients for sailors during long sea voyages to help ward off scurvy.

Today, vitamin C deficiency is much more rare. With researchers continuing to unearth a long list of potential vitamin C benefits, there’s a growing emphasis on consuming more vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Precautions

Vitamin C is not stored in the body and excess amounts are excreted, so overdosing on this water-soluble vitamin is not generally a concern. However, it is still important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day to avoid adverse symptoms and vitamin C side effects, such as stomach upset and diarrhea.

A recent study also found a link between taking vitamin C supplements and kidney stones in men, reporting that taking supplementation resulted in a significantly higher risk of kidney stones. If you have a history of kidney stones, you should consider consulting with your doctor before starting supplementation, or simply try increasing your intake of vitamin C foods and drinks to meet your daily needs instead.

Vitamin C supplements may also interact with certain types of medications. In particular, it may interact with estrogen, protease inhibitors, certain anticoagulants, niacin and aluminum-containing medications like phosphate binders. (21) If you’re currently taking any of these medications, talk to your doctor before starting supplementation.

Related: How Much Is Too Much Vitamin C? (Symptoms, Causes & Treatment)

Final Thoughts

  • What does vitamin C do? Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and plays a role in many aspects of health, ranging from skin health to immune function.
  • Promising research suggests that increasing your intake of vitamin C could help improve iron absorption, enhance cancer treatment, boost immunity and decrease the risk of conditions like gout and heart disease.
  • What foods are high in vitamin C? Although it can be found in a number of healthy foods, the highest vitamin C foods are generally fruits and vegetables, such as red peppers, kiwis, guavas and black currants.
  • While supplementation is available, including a good variety of foods with vitamin C can help you easily meet your daily needs.
  • Opt for raw instead of cooked when possible to maximize the vitamin C content of your favorite foods.

Read Next: Astaxanthin Benefits Better than Vitamin C?

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *