By Jill Levy
Although vitamin C is an essential nutrient that offers benefits related to skin health, vision, healthy joints and much more, it’s most well known for supporting a healthy immune system.
This is one reason why it’s recommended that you emphasize foods high in vitamin C in your diet.
Wondering, “How can I increase my vitamin C intake?” The very best way is to eat more foods high in vitamin C, such as plant foods including citrus fruits, leafy greens and broccoli, and berries.
10 Foods High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant. Which foods are highest in vitamin C? It may surprise you to know just how many fruits and vegetables contain this essential nutrient, which you must get from your diet because your body cannot make enough on its own.
For example, which fruit has more vitamin C than an orange? Black currants are among the richest sources of vitamin C. All types of berries, such as acai, strawberries, raspberries, camu camu berries and so on — are also great sources, as are kiwis, grapefruits, mango, pineapple, papaya and guava.
Generally speaking, getting plenty of vitamin C from your diet and/or supplements is thought to help support cellular health and healthy aging. Vitamin C also helps to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones.
Here’s a list of the best vitamin C foods to eat regularly — beyond just oranges —in order to help boost your intake:
1. Black currants
1 cup: 203 milligrams (338 percent Daily Value or DV)
Potential benefits: Supports a healthy immune system, high in antioxidants and fiber, high in vitamin A, B vitamins and vitamin E.
How to consume it: Use in homemade jams and jellies, add to granola or yogurt, add to a salad or healthy homemade desserts.
1 cup: 164 milligrams (273 percent DV)
Potential benefits: High in vitamin C, potassium, calcium, vitamin K and folate.
How to consume it: Add to fruit salads, smoothies, healthy desserts and yogurt parfaits.
3. Leafy greens like kale and spinach
1 cup kale, raw: 80 milligrams (134 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Loaded with antioxidants including flavonoids and polyphenols, vitamins C and A, fiber, calcium, magnesium, and more.
How to consume it: Make a big salad with mixed greens, add a handful to smoothies, juice them, sauté them or add to soups and stews.
4. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
1 cup, raw: 81 milligrams (135 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Very high in vitamins A, C, E, K B vitamins, folate, fiber and antioxidants such as lutein and sulforaphane.
How to consume it: Add to stir-fries, steam and serve with fish or meat, add to omelettes, blend into soups.
5. Grapefruits, tangerines and other citrus fruits (oranges are great, too!)
1/2 fruit: 38 milligrams (64 percent DV)
Potential benefits: High in vitamin C and other antioxidants, as well as folate, calcium, fiber and more.
How to consume it: Eat citrus fruits raw as a snack, add them to smoothies or fresh squeezed juices, add segments to salads.
6. Bell peppers
1 cup: 120 to 190 milligrams (317 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Great source of antioxidants including vitamins C and A, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins.
How to consume it: Slice and add to stir-fries, salads, sandwiches, tacos, hummus and homemade dips.
7. Berries (all types, including strawberries, camu camu, acai, etc.)
1 cup strawberries: 89 milligrams (149 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Rich in antioxidants including polyphenols such as anthocyanins, vitamins C and A, fiber, manganese and vitamin K.
How to consume it: Snack on them raw or add to yogurt, oatmeal, healthy baked goods, preserves, jams and smoothies.
8. Pineapple (plus mango, papaya, guava and other tropical fruits)
1 cup pineapple: 79 milligrams (131 percent DV)
Potential benefits: High in vitamin C, enzymes including bromelain, magnesium, B vitamins and manganese.
How to consume it: Snack on them raw or add to yogurt, smoothies, healthy baked goods and desserts.
1 cup: 32 milligrams (53 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Low calorie, high water content, and good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate and potassium.
How to consume it: Snack on it raw or add to fruit salads and smoothies.
1 cup, raw: 23 milligrams (38 percent DV)
Potential benefits: Great source of antioxidants including lycopene, rich in vitamins C, vitamin A, B2, folate and chromium.
How to consume it: Make tomato sauce or tomato soup, add to vegetable soups and stews, add to pizzas, pasta dishes or salads.
Optimal Amount of Vitamin C for Health
How much vitamin C do you need each day? The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is based on age and gender. Adult women and men require an estimated 75 to 90 milligrams per day, although more may offer additional benefits.
The RDA for vitamin C for different age groups is as follows:
For infants and children:
- 0–12 months: 40 to 50 mg/day
- 1–8 years: 15 to 25 mg/day
- 9–13 years: 45 mg/day
- 14–18 years: 65 to 80 mg/day
- Men age 19 and older: 90 mg/day
- Women age 19 years and older: 75 mg/day
- Pregnant women: 85 mg/day
- Breastfeeding women: 120 mg/day
Obtaining more vitamin C from foods in your diet can be as simple as including a few extra servings of fruits and veggies in your meals each day. One thing to point out about foods high in vitamin C is that they may lose some of their nutrients if overcooked or highly processed.
It’s best to consume foods high in vitamin C raw wherever possible, instead of cooked, because cooking methods like boiling, simmering, sautéing, stir-frying and poaching can cause significant losses of vitamin C and other “delicate” nutrients.
Best Vitamin C Supplements
Overall, the safest and best way to meet your nutritional needs for vitamin C is to eat a variety of vitamin C-rich foods. In addition to eating foods high in vitamin C, supplements can also increase your intake, for example if you smoke and have been told by your doctor that you can likely benefit from getting more.
As always, you should consult your healthcare professional prior to any dietary or lifestyle regimen, including vitamin C intake.
When might a person need a vitamin C supplement supplement? Supplementing is encouraged if someone is unable to get enough from their diet alone, or if they have certain lifestyle factors that may increase their need, for example if they have trouble absorbing nutrients from their diet.
Most supplements generally have a serving size of about 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per capsule, although higher doses can be found in some supplements. It’s important not to exceed the safe upper limit of 2,000 milligrams a day from supplements.
Keep these suggestions in mind when choosing a vitamin C supplement:
- Opt for a “real food” vitamin C supplement that is made from real food sources, which can support absorption through the optimization of different compounds.
- Ancient Nutrition’s Vitamin C supplement is not only formulated from real food, but also fermented with probiotics to support absorption. Overall, this process supports absorption of vitamins and minerals by helping to kickstart the process of breaking down nutrients into smaller particles.
- Additionally, Ancient Nutrition’s vitamin C formula features ingredients inspired by the Traditional Chinese Method that can support a healthy immune system.
Jill Levy has been with the Dr. Axe and Ancient Nutrition team for five years. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Fairfield University, followed by a certification as a Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Jill takes a “non-diet” approach to health and really enjoys teaching others about mindful eating, intuitive eating and the benefits of eating real foods.