Vitamin C, also known as ‘Ascorbic Acid’, is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. It protects the body from free radicals, which play an essential role in ageing. In addition, it helps strengthen the blood vessels and muscles. However, unlike other animals, humans cannot synthesise this vitamin internally. Hence, our vitamin C intake depends only on natural foods and artificial supplements.
You can obtain reasonable amounts of vitamin C from certain fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits such as oranges, strawberries, gooseberries and grapes and leafy vegetables like cabbage, cauliflowers, etc., are excellent sources of this vitamin.
In addition, potatoes, red peppers, parsley and Brussel sprouts contain considerable amounts. However, make sure to cook food briefly at low temperatures to preserve the vitamin in your food.
Vitamin C Requirements
The requirement of Vitamin C content in one’s body varies according to age. For instance, the United States Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) study suggests the appropriate vitamin C intake for adults (18 years and above) as 65-75 mg of the vitamin, whereas for infants (up to 12 months), it is 40-50 mg.
Proven Benefits of Vitamin C
Let us look at some fantastic benefits of including vitamins in your diet.
Speeds up the healing of wounds
Vitamin C leads to collagen production, a protein present in connective tissues of the skin, muscles, and tendons. So regular intake of this vitamin is helpful in wound healing. Vitamin C speeds up the healing process, whether the wound is a minor or deep cut, broken bone or burns.
Vitamin C is the principal water-soluble antioxidant found in plasma. It is a two-fold action; it oxidises itself and regenerates and activates iron or copper. Then it removes the damaging oxidising agent. The process helps in speeding up the wound healing process.
Role in neurological conditions
Vitamin C is crucial in protecting the brain and nervous system against the harmful effects of stress. If you take them in optimum amounts, it synthesises the regulation of stress hormones. Additionally, high nutrient levels may also reduce the progression of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. That is because it helps increase beta-carotene and lycopene.
As per the study results, vitamin C may change the course of neurological diseases and display potential therapeutic roles.
Helps battle asthma
People with chronic asthma can significantly benefit from Vitamin C. It is essentially an antioxidant and antihistamine that enables improved lung function. In addition, it decreases the oxidative stress placed on airway tissues which prevent hypersensitivity-causing triggers. Studies suggest that 1000-2000 mg of the vitamin daily can effectively reduce histamines production, a significant cause of inflammation in asthma patients.
Various studies suggest that Vitamin C deficiency can decrease the body’s resistance to specific pathogens. So, including it in your diet helps fight various infections and allergies, strengthening the immune system.
Reduces risk of cataracts
Direct exposure to sunlight leads to the generation of free radicals in the eye lens, which causes cataracts or blindness in the elderly. These free radicals occur as the fluid inside the eye and prevent oxidation that leads to eye lens clouding. Vitamin C intake may successfully eliminate free radicals. In addition, it boosts vitamins in the eye field. Therefore, vitamin C reduces the risk of cataracts in older people and improves their vision.
Aids in the treatment of cancer
High vitamin C dosage increases the effect of cancer-eliminating drugs utilised in chemotherapy. Unlike other medications, this vitamin is target-specific. Hence, it doesn’t damage the other body cells. Moreover, a study suggests that increased intake of nutrients can also reduce the risk of mouth, lungs, throat, vocal cords, colon, oesophagus, and rectum cancer.
Reduces the risk of stroke
Vitamin C kills the free radicals, which damage the walls of arteries. Therefore, they help reduce the chances of a stroke. Besides this, vitamin C consumption also lowers cholesterol and improves blood flow.
As per research, plasma vitamin C modifies the association between hypertension and the risk of stroke. So, add adequate vitamin C to your diet to avoid the risk of stroke.
Cures Lead Toxicity
Vitamin C deficiency may lead to higher amounts of lead in the bloodstream. In addition, it severely affects mental and physical development and can even prove fatal. Hence, people who smoke should add a daily dose of vitamin C supplements to their routine. It reduces lead levels and can alleviate lead toxicity.
Helps in weight loss
Adequate levels of Vitamin C can foster weight and fat loss by increasing body fat oxidation during exercise and enhancing metabolism. So, including citrus fruits or leafy vegetables in your diet before or after your exercise routine can fasten fat loss.
According to a study, individuals who consume more vitamin C with adequate exercise oxidise 30% more fat than individuals with low consumption levels.
Effective for arthritis symptoms
People who have arthritis take vitamin C supplements to raise vitamin levels in their bodies. It helps reduce pain, swelling of joints and inflammation as well. It also assists in lowering uric acid in the blood. In addition, the production, repair, and maintenance of cartilaginous tissues enhance as a result of collagen production by Vitamin C. However, balance in its intake is crucial because a high dose can worsen the condition.
Beneficial for skin problems
Clinical trials prove that vitamin C prevents skin sagging, reduce wrinkles, protects from UV rays and improves skin elasticity. Therefore, it is widely used in face packs, creams, and moisturisers today.
It helps maintain healthy gums.
Vitamin C deficiency can cause periodontal disease, a severe form of gingivitis. It develops because lower vitamin C levels can weaken connective tissues and quickly break down the capillaries. Conversely, a regular and moderated intake of Vitamin C can prevent bleeding gums and improve oral health.
Hence, vitamin C keeps the connective tissues of the gums healthy and strong. As a result, they hold your teeth in place and reduce tooth wear in early childhood.
Regulates blood sugar
According to research, regular and long-term intake of Vitamin C supplements aids the regulation of blood sugar levels in patients who have Type 2 Diabetes. In addition, the vitamin stimulates the insulin mechanism, reduces fasting blood glucose, thereby enhancing the efficacy of the treatment.
Scurvy is quite a rare occurrence today. However, vitamin C or ascorbic acid deficiency is one of the leading causes of scurvy. It causes weakness, anaemia, gum disease, and skin problems. In addition, collagen, formed by vitamin C, is vital in connective tissues. Therefore, consuming 10 g of Vitamin C every day can help prevent scurvy.
Great for healthy hair
Dry and flaky skin can lead to the clogging of hair follicles. As a result, it prevents hair growth and leads to hair fall. Vitamin C helps fight the bacteria in the scalp and prevents premature greying of hair.
Research also suggests that vitamins and minerals play a significant role in hair loss.
Prevents Common Cold
Vitamin C foods are not a cure for the common cold, but recent studies suggest that they help prevent it. In addition, they do not worsen into serious complications, such as pneumonia and lung infections.
Helps Prevent Iron Deficiency
Iron is an essential nutrient that serves multiple functions. It builds red blood cells and assists the transportation of oxygen throughout the body. Vitamin C absorbs the iron from your diet. It further converts it into an easily absorbable form. 100 mg of vitamin C can improve iron efficiency in the body by 67%. According to research, it helps lower the chances of contracting anaemia.
Protects Cells from Free Radical Damage
Our bodies produce free radicals due to cigarette smoke, air pollution, excessive sunlight, and normal metabolism. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. As a result, it stops untimely ageing and prevents diseases like cancer and heart diseases, as mentioned above. In other words, it avoids the harmful effects of pollution around us.
Vitamin C Rich Foods
Now that we know the many benefits of Vitamin C let’s look at a few foods rich in Vitamin C. Well known as a potent antioxidant and containing nutrients to enhance skin, immune system, bone, and collagen tissue health, vitamin C is abundantly found in the following food items.
Currently, the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 90 mg for adults. However, since humans can’t naturally produce this vitamin, we should eat vitamin C rich foods to fulfil this requirement.
Vitamin C Rich Broccoli
Broccoli is one of the richest sources of vitamin C. In addition, it has loads of fibre and plenty of antioxidants, which help keep inflammation down. The best way to eat broccoli is to steam it for 5 minutes. It allows the veggie to keep more vitamin C inside than other methods like boiling. You should look for brightly coloured stalks and a dark greenish head that feels firm to a light squeeze.
Nutritional Properties of Broccoli:
½ cup (78 gram) cooked broccoli contains:
- Vitamin C: 50 mg
- Calories: 27
- Fats: 0.3 grams
- Cholesterol: 0
- Sodium: 1% of RDA
- Potassium: 7% of RDA
- Carbohydrates: 5.6 grams
- Protein: 1.9 grams
- Iron: 2.9%
- Calcium: 2.4%
Vitamin C Rich Guavas
Guavas contain large amounts of lycopene antioxidants. Eating one large guava can provide 126 mg of vitamin C to us. It is twice the amount you would get from eating an orange. People with high blood pressure and cholesterol levels should eat guava every day as it significantly lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
Nutritional Properties of Guava:
One Guava contains:
- Calories: 37
- Fat: 1 gram.
- Cholesterol: 0 milligrams.
- Sodium: 1 milligram.
- Carbohydrates: 8 grams.
- Fibre: 3 grams.
- Sugar: 5 grams.
- Protein:1 gram.
Vitamin C Rich Kiwi
One kiwi contains 71 mg of the vitamin. In addition, it helps improve immunity, reduce oxidative stress and lower cholesterol levels. It also increases blood cell activity by 20%, can decrease blood platelet stickiness by 18% and triglycerides by 15%. These factors prevent stroke and reduce the risk of blood clots.
Nutritional Properties of Kiwi:
A 140 gm serving of Kiwi contains:
- Calories: 90
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 1 gram
- Carbohydrates: 21 grams
- Fibre: 5 grams
- Sugar: 15 grams
Vitamin C Rich Brussel Sprouts
Many people eat Brussel sprouts as they are rich in potassium, fibre, Vitamin A, K, and folate. But only a few know that Brussel sprouts are a good source of Vitamin C as well. Half a cup of cooked Brussel sprouts provides 49 mg of the nutrient. Therefore, it can reduce the risk of fractures while also improving the formation of collagen.
Nutritional Properties of Brussels Sprouts:
Here are some of the major nutrients in half-cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts:
- Calories: 28
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbs: 6 grams
- Fibre: 2 grams
- Vitamin K: 137% of the RDI
- Vitamin C: 81% of the RDI
- Vitamin A: 12% of the RDI
- Folate: 12% of the RDI
- Manganese: 9% of the RDI
Vitamin C Rich Cauliflower
One cup of chopped raw cauliflower fulfils 77% of your daily vitamin C requirement. It helps prevent cellular damage, aids iron absorption and reduces cholesterol. It is also an excellent source of:
- Dietary fibre for digestion
- B vitamin for brain development
- Vitamin K to promote blood clotting
- Vitamin B6 for metabolism and choline
- Small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium
Nutritional Properties of Cauliflower:
1 cup (100 gram) cauliflower contains:
- Vitamin C: 48 mg
- Calories: 27
- Fats: 0.3 grams
- Cholesterol: 0
- Sodium: 1% of RDA
- Potassium: 9% of RDA
- Carbohydrates: 5.3 grams
- Protein: 2.1 grams
- Iron: 2.5%
- Calcium: 1.8%
Vitamin C Rich Oranges
Oranges are an excellent fruit that offers considerable amounts of Vitamin C; a medium-sized orange containing 70 mg of vitamin C. Citrus fruits can easily help one meet the vitamin requirement. In addition, orange juice is one of the richest vitamin C juice and contains enough antioxidants.
Nutritional Properties of Orange:
One medium-sized orange has:
- Calories: 60
- No fat or sodium
- Fibre: 3 grams
- Sugar: 12 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Vitamin A: 14 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 70 milligrams
- Calcium: 6% of RDA
Vitamin C Rich Lemons
The most accessible and most affordable source of this vitamin is lemon. Including one whole lemon in your diet fulfils 92% of one’s daily Vitamin C requirement. From adding a little lemon to your salad to having a glass of lemonade, there are several ways to include lemons in your daily diet.
Nutritional Properties of Lemons:
The nutrients in 1/2 cup (100 grams) of raw, peeled lemon are:
- Calories: 29
- Water: 89%
- Protein: 1.1 grams
- Carbs: 9.3 grams
- Sugar: 2.5 grams
- Fibre: 2.8 grams
- Fat: 0.3 grams
Vitamin C Rich Papayas
Papaya is good for digestion and contains anti-inflammatory properties as well. It accounts for 97% of one’s daily Vitamin C needs. Therefore, eating papaya can aid memory. In addition, it is beneficial for patients suffering from mild levels of Alzheimer’s disease.
Nutritional Properties of Lemons:
Medium-sized papaya (approximately 275 grams) contains about:
- Calories: 119
- Protein: 1.3 grams
- Carbohydrates: 30 grams
- Fat: Less than 1 gram
- Dietary fibre: 4.7 grams
- Sugar: 21.58 grams
Vitamin C Deficiency
The deficiency of Vitamin C in our body is quite rare and takes months to develop. The shortage of this all-important nutrient essentially means that collagen formation has significantly decreased or stopped altogether.
A shortage of this essential nutrient may lead to scurvy and severely affect the body’s ability to repair itself. The symptoms of this deficiency include fatigue, muscle and joint pains, easy bruising, poor immunity, swelling of gums, dry and damaged skin, poor healing of wounds, unusual alterations in bones and unexplained weight loss.
Vitamin C is a solution for better immunity, cataract prevention, stroke, cancer and neurological conditions. The benefits of Vitamin C indeed make it one of the essential vitamins that ought to be a part of everyone’s diet!
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. That means it gets dissolved in water and absorbed into tissues for immediate use. Since our bodies do not store vitamin C, we should replenish it regularly by having vitamin C foods. Vitamin C deficiency can have serious health complications. Hence, according to your health needs and body types, you should obtain vitamin C from your diet or supplements.
There are numerous fruits and vegetables to choose from, and if you don’t like one, you can go for the other. However, as we have looked at the impressive health benefits, you need to realise the importance it holds for you.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. Which foods are highest in vitamin C?
A. Guava, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kiwi are some foods high in vitamin C.
Q. Which fruit is rich in vitamin C?
A. Citrus fruit such as oranges and orange juice is rich in vitamin C.
Q. What drink is high in vitamin C?
A. Orange juice is naturally high in vitamin C and other antioxidants.
Q. Is banana rich in vitamin C?
A. Banana has many benefits. However, the vitamin C content in one banana is only 10.2mg.
Q. How can I get vitamin C naturally?
A. You can get vitamin C naturally from oranges, peppers, and strawberries.
Q. Is lemon rich in vitamin C?
A. Yes. Lemon has double the amount of vitamin C needed in your daily diet.
Q. Is Carrot high in vitamin C?
A. One medium-size carrot has 3.2 mg vitamin C. However, it contributes to collagen production.
Q. Are tomatoes rich in vitamin C?
A. Tomatoes are an excellent source of antioxidants. However, the vitamin C content in 100 grams red tomatoes is only 13.7 mg.
Q. What are the side effects of vitamin C?
A. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea are the side effects of vitamin C.
Q. Which Dal is rich in vitamin C?
A. Masoor Dal is rich in vitamin C. One serving of masoor dal provides 6.3 mg of vitamin C.
Q. What foods have vitamin C for the skin?
A. Oranges and lemons have vitamin C and keep the skin healthy, firm, strong, and youthful.
Q. Is vitamin C food good for the skin?
A. Yes. Vitamin C minimises the appearance of fine lines, smoothens and firms the skin’s surface by activating cells, and improves skin elasticity.