Vitamin C is arguably one of the better-known vitamins and chances are you’re aware that citrus fruit come chock full of it. But there are many other surprising sources of the nutrient that are equally good and delicious too! So you can tank up on the vitamin even if you have a citrus allergy or don’t care for tart food. Here’s a look at some of the richest food sources of vitamin C.
Antioxidant Vitamin C Is Vital For Tissue Growth And Repair
Water-soluble vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is needed to keep your cells healthy and is responsible for the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. It helps keep your bones, teeth, cartilage, and blood vessels in good working condition. It even helps with iron absorption by your body. Those who seek youthful skin should also stock up on vitamin C-rich foods to keep it looking supple and healthy. Vitamin C also helps heal wounds and form that all-important scar tissue.1 2
If, on the other hand, you fail to get enough of it, you might wind up with scurvy, a deficiency that leaves you feeling fatigued or irritable, with joint pain, swollen bleeding gums, red/blue spots on your shins, or constant bruises.3 It may also result in anemia, dry hair with lots of split ends, slower wound healing, slower metabolism and associated weight gain, dry and scaly skin, and weakened tooth enamel.4
Adults Need To 75–90 mg Of Vitamin C Daily
The human body isn’t capable of making its own vitamin C and doesn’t appear to store it either, which is why you need to ensure you get enough of it through your diet. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, smokers, burn victims, and those recovering from surgery may need more vitamin C as prescribed by their doctor.5 The recommended intake for adult males is 90 mg a day, while the level suggested for adult females is 75 mg. However, if a woman is pregnant she will need 85 mg every day, and if she is nursing, that requirement rises to 120 mg daily.6 When it comes to foods rich in the nutrient, the daily value (DV), indicated by the Food and Drug Authority, helps you understand how much you should get in per day. The latest standards set the DV for vitamin C is at 90 mg per day for adults, mirroring the recommended intake value. For pregnant women/lactating mothers, this level is set at 120 mg.7 A food with a DV of 20% or more is considered rich in a nutrient.
1. Citrus Fruits
Let’s start by getting the obvious ones out of the way. Citrus fruits are a well-known and abundant source of vitamin C. So how much do they contain? Oranges top the list, followed by grapefruit, kumquats, and tangerines. You can enjoy these fruit on their own at breakfast or as a snack. Or use them in a variety of recipes, choosing the right fruit depending on how sweet you like things. Sweeter fruits like oranges are lovely in desserts like mousses and in cakes. But if you enjoy your sweets less sugary, lime or lemon work well in things like pies, cakes, and cookies. For a savory option, you could even char your oranges or lemons and add them to a salad or couscous for depth of flavor. If you like a little tartness in your salad dressings, juice the limes, lemons, or even oranges and add them to a vinaigrette.
- Oranges, 1 cup: 95.8 mg (106.4% DV)8
- Grapefruit (pink/red), 1 cup: 71.8 mg (79.8% DV)9
- Kumquats, 1 cup: 65.9 mg (73.2% DV)10
- Tangerines, 1 cup: 52.1 mg (57.9% DV)11
- Lemon juice, 1 lemon: 18.6 mg (20.7% DV)12
- Lime juice, 1 lemon: 13.2 mg (14.7% DV)13
2. Red And Green Peppers
- 1 cup of chopped sweet red peppers: 190.3 mg of vitamin C (211.4% DV)
- 1 cup of chopped sweet green peppers:119.8 mg of vitamin C (133.1% DV)
While citrus fruits get the lion’s share of attention for being vitamin C rich, it is actually red peppers and green peppers that contain more of the nutrient! A cup of chopped sweet red peppers contains 190.3 mg of vitamin C or 211.4% DV.14 Not to be left behind, a cup of chopped sweet green peppers is also a great source of the nutrient, with 119.8 mg of vitamin C, or 133.1% DV.15
If you’re not sure if you truly enjoy peppers, try adding them into soups so they’re blended in with other flavors and don’t dominate. Or blitz them up in exotic dips like spicy Middle Eastern harissa or muhammara. Red peppers also taste great in a cool refreshing Spanish style gazpacho while green peppers find their way into several Chinese stir-fry recipes, combined with meats or mushrooms, onions, and soy sauce.
1 cup of sliced kiwifruit: 166.9 mg of vitamin C (185.4% DV)
Bright green kiwifruit flecked with black seeds are a real joy to eat. And if the fruit hasn’t been on your radar all this time, consider this. Just one cup of sliced raw green kiwifruit has a whopping 166.9 mg of vitamin C, which is the equivalent of 185.4% DV of the nutrient.16 Just dice up some fruit and add it to your salads, dressings, and glazes for a lovely, unique tartness quite different to what citrus fruit offer. Kiwifruit works well with shrimp and chicken, so you could make up a batch of tacos with chicken and kiwifruit or create a kiwifruit dipping sauce to go with shrimp.
4. Cruciferous Vegetables
- 1 cup of broccoli: 101.2 mg of vitamin C (112.4% DV)
- 1 cup of Brussels sprouts: 98.6 mg of vitamin C (107.6% DV)
The brassica vegetables are another great category to look to for your vitamin C needs. After all, broccoli has 101.2 mg per cup (112.4% DV), Brussels sprouts have 96.8 mg per cup (107.6% DV), cabbage has 56.2 mg per cup (62.4% DV), and cauliflower has 55 mg per cup (61.1% DV).17 18 19 20 Impressed? Use them lightly steamed with a healthy citrus dressing in salads. Or try roasting some brussels sprouts, cauliflower, or broccoli in the oven so they are gently charred and utterly delicious. If you are cutting back on your rice intake, why not try cauliflower rice? Or make a creamy cauliflower mash to go with that meaty main as a great alternative to potatoes.
1 cup of sliced strawberries: 97.6 mg of vitamin C (108.4% DV)
A love for strawberries will do you well if you’re trying to up that vitamin C intake. That familiar tartness you get from eating a just ripe berry is a clue to its nutrient content. You’ll get 97.6 mg or 108.4% DV from a cup of the sliced berries. You can add them to your desserts as both an ingredient and a gorgeous garnish. They even pair well with bitter green salad leaves and can be cleverly added to glazes for meats too. If you are hunting for a way to liven up your breakfast, the berries can take a decidedly healthy but unfortunately dull-looking bowl of oatmeal from drab to glam! You could even make a refreshing granita or homemade ice cream with the pureed berries. Or use it to make a smoothie. Even plain strawberry juice tastes great – a cup of the puree has 136.4 mg(151.6% DV), making it a great way to get in that vitamin C without much effort.21
1 cup of cubed papayas: 88.3 mg of vitamin C (98.1% DV)
A cup of cubed papayas has 88.3 mg (98.1% DV) of vitamin C. Having them mashed gives you even more of the vitamin – 140.1 mg or 155.7% DV.22 Papaya can be used in Indian dessert “halwa,” in a papaya smoothie, or to make a delicious mango and papaya salsa. It also pairs well with seafood like scallops or tuna, so don’t write it off as a tropical fruit that only works well in smoothies or exotic fruit salads. Of course, it does taste great in jams and fruit pops, so you could make them part of your treats too.
A cup of melon balls: 65 mg of vitamin C (72.2% DV)
A cup of that summertime favorite of melon balls has 65 mg of vitamin C or 72.2% DV.23 Enjoy your cantaloupe in granitas, juices, smoothies, and mixed melon salads. Or make a light meal or appetizer of prosciutto-wrapped melon balls or experiment with a sweet ricotta and cantaloupe pizza. Adventurous chefs have even tried making a cantaloupe meringue pie and cantaloupe cupcakes.
8. Green Leafy Vegetables
Green leafy vegetables include an array of options ranging from pungent flavored mustard greens to mildly bitter kale. In fact, these other green are far richer in vitamin C than spinach, that staple green! For instance, turnip greens have about 43.9% DV of vitamin C to the 19.6% DV of spinach. You can use the greens in green smoothies and juices, or make them a part of main meals. You could wilt them and season for a quick-fix side to bulk up a meal, or stir fry them with garlic and spices or even some meats. You may enjoy them pureed into curries. Or have them in fresh tasting salads with healthy yogurt or citrus dressings. And even if you’ve heard it a million times before, we have to say it again: “Eat your greens!”
- Turnip greens, 1 cup, boiled: 39.5 mg (43.9% DV)24
- Collards, 1 cup, boiled: 34.6 mg (38.4% DV)25
- Beet greens, 1 cup, boiled: 35.9 mg (39.9% DV)26
- Mustard greens, 1 cup, boiled: 35.4 mg (39.3% DV)27
- Kale, 1 cup, boiled: 21 mg (23.3% DV)28
- Spinach, 1 cup, boiled: 17.6 mg (19.6% DV)29
9. Sweet Potatoes
A cup of mashed sweet potato: 39.2 mg of vitamin C (43.6% DV)
A cup of mashed sweet potato has 39.2 mg of vitamin C, which is an impressive 43.6% DV.30 You can fashion the mashed sweet potato into croquettes, use it as the foundation for sweet potato and potato mash, or make savory sweet potato cakes to go with your eggs at breakfast. Oven roasting them as wedges or fries also works great and the flavor can be amped up with a scattering of herbs and spices. They even work well in pies and desserts, so go ahead and try out these spuds!
- One large russet potato: 24.8 mg of vitamin C (27.6% DV)
- One large white potato: 37.7 mg of vitamin C (41.9% DV)
While on the subject of spuds, it is hard to ignore potatoes which, for all the flack they get, are actually a great source of nutrients. The flesh and skin of one large ruxsset potato offer 24.8 mg of vitamin C or 27.6% DV.31 The flesh and skin of a large white potato offer 37.7 mg of vitamin C or 41.9% DV.32 Not bad at all!
Using potatoes is hardly a challenge, but if you’re trying to be healthier, avoid frying them. Instead, use them in salads after lightly steaming them. Or use some roasted off as a side. If you decide to make a potato salad, use a yogurt dressing instead of a fatty mayonnaise version. Or make an Indian style ,turmeric-hued potato stir-fry. Combine them with other veggies like cabbage or cauliflower to improve the vitamin C content of your meal even more!
A cup of chopped or sliced tomatoes: 24.7 mg of vitamin C (27.4% DV)
Another larder staple, the tomato is a treat eaten both raw and cooked, thanks to its sweet-savory flavor. A cup of chopped or sliced tomatoes has 24.7 mg of vitamin C – that’s 27.4% DV.33 The base of many South Asian curries and Italian sauces, tomatoes find their way into many cuisines. And if you really enjoy your tomatoes, make one that combines a variety of different kinds of tomatoes – think green, yellow, red, cherry tomatoes and more. If you’re trying to kick off your day with tomatoes, they’ll even work simply grilled or diced up and scattered over your fried eggs. Or cook them Lebanese style for a hearty breakfast with eggs.
12. Fortified Foods And Beverages
8 oz of fortified apple juice drink: 57.6 mg of vitamin C (64% DV)
Juices and cereals sometimes are fortified with vitamin C to up their nutrient content.34 For instance, an 8 oz serving of vitamin C fortified apple juice drink could have around 57.6 mg of vitamin C (64% DV).35. A fortified citrus green tea drink might have as much as 104.1 mg (115.7% DV) to the cup.36 How much a food will contain will depend on the brand of food you are buying so be sure to read the labels carefully.
|↑1||Vitamin C. National Health Service.|
|↑3||Scurvy. National Health Service.|
|↑4, ↑5||Vitamin C. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑7||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes Of Health.|
|↑8||Oranges, raw, all commercial varieties. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Grapefruit, raw, pink and red, all areas.
|↑10||Kumquats, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Tangerines, (mandarin oranges), raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑12||Lemon juice, raw. United States Department of Agriculture,Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Lime juice, raw. United States Department of Agriculture,Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Peppers, sweet, red, raw.
|↑15||Peppers, sweet, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Kiwifruit, green, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Broccoli, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑18||Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑19||Cabbage, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑20||Cauliflower, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑21||Strawberries, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑22||Papayas, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑23||Melons, cantaloupe, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑24||Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑25||Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑26||Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑27||Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑28||Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑29||Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑30||Sweet potato, cooked, baked in skin, flesh, with salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑31||Potatoes, Russet, flesh and skin, baked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑32||Potatoes, white, flesh and skin, baked. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑33||Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑34||Vitamin C. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑35||Beverages, Apple juice drink, light, fortified with vitamin C. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑36||Beverages, tea, green, ready-to-drink, citrus, diet, fortified with vitamin C. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|