Nutrition: the 10 best sources of vitamin C

Nutrition: the 10 best sources of vitamin C

  • By Nicola Shubrook
  • Nutritionist

woman eating a cherry

Photo credit, Getty Images

What is Vitamin C? Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin, which is therefore not stored by the body. This means that we must ensure that the foods we eat every day provide us with sufficient amounts.

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Vitamin C has several important functions.

  • It helps protect cells and keep them healthy.
  • It maintains the skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
  • It promotes the healing of wounds.

How Much Vitamin C Should We Consume?

UK guidelines suggest that adults aged 19 and over need 40mg per day, which you should be able to find in your diet.

Since vitamin C is water-soluble and heat-sensitive, some of it is lost during cooking. Raw fruits and vegetables contain the most vitamin C, but if you must cook them, steaming seems to be the best method to retain their nutritional value.

The 10 Best Sources of Vitamin C

1. Blackcurrant

One hundred and sixty milligrams per 80g serving (handful) or 200mg per 100g.

Blackcurrants are small, round, purple and black berries with a tangy taste. A single 80g serving provides 200% of your daily vitamin C needs and surprisingly thirty times more vitamin C than blueberries.

Blackcurrant can easily be used to make jam or sorbet.

2. Broccoli (raw)

Sixty-three milligrams per 80g serving (handful) or 79mg per 100g.

Whether eaten raw or cooked, broccoli is a useful source of vitamin C. It can be eaten raw or added to a juice or smoothie. You may prefer to lightly steam it as a side dish to your main meal, or add it to a number of recipes, including soups, stir-fries or salads.

A handful of raw broccoli provides about 60 mg of vitamin C, which is more than your daily requirement. If broccoli is cooked, vitamin C levels drop to around 48mg per 80g serving, as vitamin C is heat sensitive and water soluble.

Photo credit, Getty Images

3. Green pepper

Ninety-six milligrams per 80g serving (½ large bell pepper) or 120mg per 100g.

Like its red counterpart, the green pepper is very versatile. Less sweet in taste, it is useful in stir fries, Turkish eggs and when added to hot sauce.

Half of a large green bell pepper provides about twice your daily vitamin C needs, along with vitamin B6, folic acid, and fiber.

4. Guava

One hundred twenty-six milligrams per 55g serving (1 fruit) or 230mg per 100g serving.

Guava is a tropical fruit that can be eaten by removing the insides or eating it whole without the skin. For larger fruits, the seeds must be removed. They can be juiced, added to fruit salads or made into jam.

One guava contains three times your daily vitamin C requirement. It is also a good source of fiber, folic acid and potassium.

image caption,

Since vitamin C is water-soluble and heat-sensitive, some of it is lost during cooking.

5. Kale (cooked)

Fifty-five milligrams per 80g serving (one handful) or 71mg per 100g.

A popular superfood, kale contains four times the vitamin C and twice the vitamin E of spinach, as well as plant compounds like beta-carotene. These nutrients are important for the proper functioning of the immune system.

Add this leafy green raw to smoothies and salads, or add it cooked to pasta, curry, or steamed as a side dish to your meal.

6. The kiwi

Forty-seven milligrams per 80g serving (1 medium kiwi) or 59mg per 100g.

This bright green tropical fruit is usually eaten raw. Just peel it and chop it or cut it in half and scoop out the flesh using a teaspoon. It can be added to a fruit salad, used to top yogurt or in a smoothie.

A single kiwi contains slightly more than your daily vitamin C requirement and is a good source of vitamin K and fiber.

7. Orange

Photo credit, Getty Images

Sixty-two milligrams per 120g serving (1 small orange) or 52mg per 100g.

Many of us appreciate this lively and juicy fruit. Try adding orange wedges to your salads, fruit salads, or breakfast bowls. Do not neglect the skin, which represents 40 to 50% of the fruit and which is richer than the flesh in minerals such as iron and copper.

A single orange contains all of your daily vitamin C needs, plus a good mix of vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, calcium, and magnesium.

Remember that unsweetened fruit juice can only count as one of your five a day, regardless of how much you drink – it is recommended to limit consumption to one 150ml glass per day. Indeed, the fact of crushing the fruits to transform them into juice releases the natural sugar they contain and which can damage the teeth.

Learn more about the health benefits of oranges.

Forty-eight milligrams per 80g serving (½ small papaya) or 60mg per 100g.

Papaya is a tropical fruit with tender flesh. It can be added to salads, made into a salsa, used in a smoothie or dessert.

Half a small papaya easily covers your vitamin C needs, as well as vitamin A, folate and potassium.

Photo credit, Getty Images

9. Red pepper

One hundred milligrams per 80g serving (½ large bell pepper) or 126mg per 100g.

Half a large red bell pepper contains more than twice your daily vitamin C needs, along with reasonable amounts of vitamins E and K, folic acid, and fiber. A versatile ingredient, red peppers can be added to soups, stews and stir-fries, or eaten in salads.

10. Strawberries

Forty-six milligrams per 80g serving (7 medium strawberries) or 57mg per 100g.

Deliciously sweet, low in calories, and with just seven berries that make up 1 of your 5 a day, strawberries are a healthy treat.

An 80g serving covers all your daily vitamin C needs and is rich in polyphenols. Including strawberries in your diet can improve digestion, brain function, and support heart health.

Nicola Shubrook is a qualified nutritionist, registered with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

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