Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C
By now, you’ve probably had at least 20 emails flood your inbox, on various ways people are responding to the Covid-19 virus.
As you know, here at Be Good my focus has always been plant-based health, and how I can help you experience the benefits by incorporating it into your life. Over the coming weeks, I’m therefore going to be sharing a series of posts, here on the blog, and over on social. Positive tips and advice that I know will help not only your immunity, but also keep stress levels at bay.
First up, an article on vitamin C – how it can support your immune system, how much you need (and why some people need more), and where to find it.
Vitamin C – why do you need it?
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the most potent antioxidants in our diet. As a result, it can help us do the following amazing things:
- Protect our body from oxidative stress and damage;
- Fight infections;
- Heal tissue, maintain blood vessels, and grow bones, ligaments, and skin; and
- Enhance iron absorption.
In terms of our immunity, the key ways big C is able to help us is two-fold. Firstly, by protecting our body from attacks in the first place (thanks to its free-radical scavenging action); and secondly, by helping us to fight off infections quicker.
How much vitamin C do you need?
According to the standard governmental RDIs (recommended daily intake levels), here’s how much vitamin C we’re told we need:
- Infants & toddlers – 35mg/day
- Children & teens – 35-40mg/day
- Adults – 45mg/day
- Pregnancy – 55-60mg/day
- Breastfeeding – 80-85mg/day
However, RDIs are often based on how much the average person needs merely to prevent deficiency (which in vitamin C’s case, causes scurvy – the sailor disease of old).
If we instead look at how much our body is designed to absorb, studies show we optimally take in around 200mg of vitamin C per day. At this level, our vitamin C blood concentration peaks at 70-80umol/L. Intakes higher than this show no increase in plasma levels. In other words, 200mg appears to be the optimal intake, to maximise blood levels (and thus health). Incidentally, 200mg/day has also been shown to coincide with the lowest stroke risk. Sounds good to me right?
Who needs more vitamin C?
- Depressed immune systems – people who have auto-immune conditions, or who have a historically depressed immune system, can benefit from higher levels of vitamin C. This might include if you’ve currently got a cold/flu, if you have a chronic auto-immune disease (graves’, lupus, Crohns etc). Or if you’re just someone who tends to get sick often (and takes a long time to recover).
- Stress – emotional stress can also cause depleted levels of vitamin C. If you’re feeling a little more anxious than normal right now, chances are you’d be well set to increase your vitamin C intake.
- Processed food diets – processed foods lack the required co-enzymes needed to absorb vitamin C. Therefore consuming a highly-processed diet will mean, even if you’re intaking vitamin C foods, they may not be being absorbed into the bloodstream (leading to our optimal 70-80umol/L as above).
- Cancer patients – cancer causes additional oxidative damage to the body, as does chemotherapy. As a result, extra vitamin C (primarily through diet, but in some cases also intravenously), has been shown to be beneficial in supporting recovery.
- Pregnancy & lactation – as with many nutrients during pregnancy and breastfeeding, babies soak up a lot of what you’re eating through your diet. During this time you need even more vitamin C. I also recommend taking a good quality full-spectrum whole food vitamin and mineral, to prevent deficiencies (and you feeling the brunt of them).
- Smokers – smoking causes significant extra amounts of oxidative damage to the lungs, so smokers use up their vitamin C much quicker. If you’re a smoker, you’ll need at least an extra 35mg/day (or… just stop the smoking).
Where can you find vitamin C
The best sources of vitamin C are… fruits and vegetables! In fact, this powerhouse antioxidant is virtually non-existent in meat, egg, and dairy products. Below I’ve scoured the nutrient databases to create a go-to list for you of the top 75 sources of vitamin C. From capsicums to chillies, broccoli to blackcurrants, you’ll see a multitude of easy, affordable sources that can help you hit your target. You’ll also see that even by eating 5 servings of fruit and veg per day, you’ll be well over our 200mg/day goal.
TOP 75 SOURCES OF VITAMIN C
|1||Kakadu Plum / Gubinge||7000 mg|
|2||Camu Camu||2700 mg|
|3||Acerola Cherries||1678 mg|
|4||Chives (dried)||660 mg|
|5||Coriander (dried)||567 mg|
|6||Green Chillis||243 mg|
|8||Yellow Capsicums||184 mg|
|9||Black Currants||181 mg|
|10||Green Capsicum||177 mg|
|11||Red Capsicum||171 mg|
|12||Thyme (fresh)||160 mg|
|13||Red Chillis||144 mg|
|15||Mustard Spinach (komastuna)||130 mg|
|16||Parsley (dried)||125 mg|
|21||Green Cauliflower||88 mg|
|22||Brussels Sprouts||85 mg|
|23||Dill (fresh)||85 mg|
|25||Mustard Greens||70 mg|
|26||Garden Cress||69 mg|
|27||Rosemary (dried)||61 mg|
|29||Snow Peas||60 mg|
|33||Red Cabbage||57 mg|
|35||Orange Juice||50 mg|
|37||Goji Berries (dried)||48 mg|
|40||Bok Choy||45 mg|
|45||Sun-Dried Tomatoes||39 mg|
|46||Pink Grapefruit Juice||38 mg|
|49||Collard Greens||35 mg|
|56||Bok Choy||26 mg|
|58||Green Tomatoes||23 mg|
|59||Onion Powder||23 mg|
|63||Butternut Squash||21 mg|
|68||Sweet Potatoes||20 mg|
|69||Onion Powder||23 mg|
|72||Spring Onions||19 mg|
Note: Some foods listed are great sources of vitamin C (e.g acerola cherries and dried chives), but are either (a) a little more difficult to source, or (b) not something you’re going to eat in 100g quantities. I’ve still included these so you know how valuable they are to add to your diet (especially the herbs). But of course make sure you also focus on the more substantial everyday fruits and veggies too.
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to touching base again next week with some more tips of how you can support your health during this time. If you have a loved one worried about their immunity right now, please do send this handy list to them. And, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask me in the comments below, or over on Facebook or Instagram.
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Nutrition Foundation NZ: https://nutritionfoundation.org.nz/nutrition-facts
USDA Nutrient Database: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/
PubMed Biomedical Literature Database: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/