Fill Up Your Plate With The Best Vitamin C Foods And Give Your Immune System Nutrition A Healthy Boost
If you want to give your immune system a helping hand, then eating foods rich in vitamin C could be the key.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a vitamin that our body requires every day and plays many important roles in our body.
Vitamin C Benefits
It is vital we get enough vitamin C for a number of reasons. Firstly, to help support our immune system. This is valid for adults as well as well as infants and children.
Vitamin C also contributes to the normal function of the immune system during and after intense physical exercise.
Vitamin C helps to protect cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there’s an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. Free radicals are produced in excess when we’re exposed to pollution, sunlight, cigarette smoke and other factors that occur in day-to-day life.
Added to this, vitamin C is also useful for normal collagen formation, helping to support the skin, as well as the normal function of bones, teeth, cartilage, gums and blood vessels.
Plus, we need vitamin C to help us absorb iron from food and/or supplements. If you have ever been told to drink orange juice with your iron supplement, or to eat dark leafy greens with your steak, there’s a good reason!
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-haem iron, which is a crucial mineral needed for the formation of red blood cells, which carry oxygen around the body and provide our cells with energy.
Iron deficiency is one of the most common micronutrient deficiencies globally, with about 30% of the world population being low, so it is important that we maintain healthy iron levels.
Some foods - such as tea and coffee- can have the opposite effect of vitamin C, and actually prevent or slow down iron absorption.
Read more about the benefits of Vitamin C here
How Much Vitamin C Do I Need Per Day?
According to the NHS, adults aged between 19 and 64 should get 40mg of vitamin C every day, while the NRV (Nutrient Reference Value, which used to be termed RDA) is 80mg. However many experts believe there are times when more may be beneficial.
As vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes out in our wee, we need to ensure we get adequate amounts of it every day to maintain our levels.
This is unlike the situation with fat soluble vitamins such as vitamin D, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin E, which are stored in the body.
The NHS advise that all children from six months up to five years are given daily vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, vitamin C and vitamin D, as well as foods rich in vitamin C.
Which Foods Are Highest For Vitamin C?
You may turn to citrus fruits when you feel run down, and for good reason. Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit contain healthy levels of vitamin C, however there is an abundance of other food that provides plenty of this immune supporting vitamin.
The highest levels of vitamin C can be found in fruits and green vegetables, but it is worth keeping in mind that the amounts of vitamin C present in the food may vary depending on the cooking process. Some vitamin C is lost when boiling for example.
Animal tissues do provide some vitamin C with liver and kidney representing ‘good sources of vitamin C’, however the amounts of vitamin C contained in these foods is not as high as the fruits and vegetables below.
The Best Vitamin C Fruits And Vegetables
Want to know exactly how much vitamin C is contained within certain foods? Check out this list below...
- Guavas per 100g 228mg
- Dried chives per 100g- 660mg
- Kiwi per 100g - 93mg
- Bell peppers per 100g -128mg
- Strawberries per 100g - 59mg
- Orange per 100g - 53mg
- Papaya per 100g - 61mg
- Broccoli per 100g - 89mg
- Kale per 100g- 18mg
- Blackcurrants per 100g - 181mg
- Brussels sprouts cooked per 100g- 62mg
- Florida grapefruit per 100g- 37mg
- Garlic per 100g- 31.2mg
- Cauliflower per 100g- 48.2mg
- Dried goji berries per 100g - 48.4mg
- Orange juice per 100g- 50mg
Can I Take Too Much Vitamin C?
Yes, you can have too much vitamin C, and this can lead to mild gastrointestinal problems such as flatulence, stomach pain and diarrhoea. The NHS class large amounts of vitamin C as being more than 1000mg per day and say that taking less than 1000mg a day is unlikely to cause harm.
If you are taking a supplement, you can lessen your chances of any problems arising, by sticking to the recommended intake and taking the supplement with your main meal.
Vitamin C Supplements
Taking a supplement can help boost your levels of vitamin C.
Ultra Vitamin C provides slow-release vitamin C along with 25mg of citrus bioflavonoids, for maximum absorption and effectiveness.
Bioflavonoids are polyphenol substances naturally present in vegetables and fruits.
Ultra Vitamin C fizz (effervescent tablets) with added zinc contains 1000mg of vitamin C, as well as zinc for extra support. Zinc also helps maintain normal immune system function. These are ideal for those who would like an alternative to tablets, and are great for post-exercise and hectic lifestyles, as well as the over 50s.
There are a few differences between Ultra Vitamin C tablets and Vitamin C effervescent tablets. Ultra Vitamin C Fizz makes a great tasting drink and offers rapid absorption in the body as it is released immediately whereas Ultra Vitamin C tablets offer sustained release for maximum absorption over several hours.
Both however are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
For more information on vitamin C check out our Ultimate Guide On Vitamin C.