Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C

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The benefits of vitamin C - how it can support your immune system, how much you need (and why some people might need more), and where to find it.
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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.

Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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:

  1. Protect our body from oxidative stress and damage;
  2. Fight infections;
  3. Heal tissue, maintain blood vessels, and grow bones, ligaments, and skin; and
  4. Enhance iron absorption.
Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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
Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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?

Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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).
Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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 by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

TOP 75 SOURCES OF VITAMIN C

RankingFoodCalcium (mg/100g) 
1Kakadu Plum / Gubinge7000 mg
2Camu Camu2700 mg
3Acerola Cherries1678 mg
4Chives (dried)660 mg
5Coriander (dried)567 mg
6Green Chillis243 mg
7Guavas228 mg
8Yellow Capsicums184 mg
9Black Currants181 mg
10Green Capsicum177 mg
11Red Capsicum171 mg
12Thyme (fresh)160 mg
13Red Chillis144 mg
14Parsley133 mg
15Mustard Spinach (komastuna)130 mg
16Parsley (dried)125 mg
17Taro96 mg
18Kale93 mg
19Kiwifruit93 mg
20Broccoli89 mg 
21Green Cauliflower88 mg
22Brussels Sprouts85 mg
23Dill (fresh)85 mg 
24Lychees72 mg
25Mustard Greens70 mg
26Garden Cress69 mg
27Rosemary (dried)61 mg
28Papaya61 mg
29Snow Peas60 mg
30Oranges59 mg
31Strawberries59 mg
32Chives58 mg
33Red Cabbage57 mg
34Lemons53 mg
35Orange Juice50 mg
36Clementines49 mg
37Goji Berries (dried)48 mg
38Cauliflower48 mg
39Pineapple49 mg
40Bok Choy45 mg
41Watercress43 mg 
42Strawberries41 mg 
43Chestnuts41 mg 
44Peas40 mg
45Sun-Dried Tomatoes39 mg
46Pink Grapefruit Juice38 mg
47Cabbage37 mg
48Mangos36 mg
49Collard Greens35 mg
50Grapefruit34 mg
51Feijoa33 mg
52Garlic31 mg
53Spinach28 mg
54Cilantro27 mg
55Raspberries26 mg
56Bok Choy26 mg
57Horseradish25 mg
58Green Tomatoes23 mg
59Onion Powder23 mg
60Okra23 mg 
61Apples22 mg
62Rosemary22 mg
63Butternut Squash21 mg
64Turnips21 mg
65Blackberries21 mg
66Cassava21 mg
67Durian20 mg
68Sweet Potatoes20 mg
69Onion Powder23 mg
70Okra23 mg 
71Apples22 mg
72Spring Onions19 mg 
73Plantains18 mg
74Basil18 mg
75Zucchini18 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.

If you’re interested in some of my other most popular nutrient-focussed blogs, you can find the links here for e.g. iron, protein, and calcium).

Top 75 Sources of Vitamin C by buffy Ellen from Be Good Organics

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.

PS – If you liked this post, share it with your friends on Facebook! For more nutritional tips and plant-based recipes, sign up for my emails here or check out my brand new online COOKING SCHOOL here.

Key Sources:

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/