Vitamin C – Health Benefits and Food Sources

Vitamin C is essential for the absorption of iron and for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of the body. It helps the body make collagen a protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, blood cells, teeth and bones.

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and helps fight infection. This important nutrient also blocks free radicals from causing damage which contribute to the aging process and the development of serious health conditions. Vitamin C is water-soluble which means it does not store in the body and must be replenished regularly.

Characteristics of a Vitamin C Deficiency

A vitamin C deficiency can be characterized by dry splitting hair, rough skin, easy bruising and nosebleeds, gingivitis and bleeding gums, as well a decreased ability to ward off infections with a reduced wound-healing rate. A severe deficiency is known as scurvy.

A deficiency in vitamin C can occur with cigarette smokers as it lowers the amount of vitamin C absorbed by the body. Long term low levels of vitamin C intake has also been associated with health conditions such as high blood pressure, stroke, gall bladder disease, cancer and atherosclerosis.

Vitamin C Food Sources

Excellent sources for vitamin C include citrus fruits, dark leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.

Nutrient-Rich Whole Food Sources for Vitamin C

This chart lists the best food sources for vitamin C, along with that food source’s single serving size and the amount of vitamin C in that single serving.

The amount of nutrients per serving in the following food sources is not absolute for several reasons. Fresh foods will have a higher vitamin and mineral content when grown in healthier soil, as well vitamin content will deplete a little bit every day from the moment it is harvested. Therefore these figures should only be used as a generalization.

Vitamin C Daily Intake Recommendations for Child and Adult

These figures are referenced from the Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) 2005 system; used in Canada and the United States. The DRI system provides the minimum daily intake requirements of vitamins, minerals and nutrients for child and adult; males and females.

To find out what your daily intake requirements are for all of the essential nutrients, see the article Essential Nutrients and Beneficial Foods, posted January 16, 2017.

Try our Mango Papaya Avocado Salad recipe! Fruits are an excellent whole food source for the essential nutrient vitamin C.


Written by: J. Marshall


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