The Top Vitamin C Rich Foods + Recipes
Why is Vitamin C important? How much do you need each day? What do deficiencies look like? Which foods and recipes contain it?
What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C was discovered by Dr Albert Szent-Gyorgyi in 1928. It is a water soluble vitamin with two forms: Ascorbic Acid or Dehydroascorbic Acid. The body cannot manufacture vitamin C so it is essential to consume it in our diet. It is easily perishable. Exposure to air quickly destroys vitamin C. It must be taken regularly throughout the day either from fresh vitamin C rich foods or as a supplement.
Dr. Linus Pauling, a Nobel Laureate Biochemist, contributed much to the understanding of vitamin C as an immune boosting nutrient.
Why is Vitamin C important and what does it do in the body?
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant involved in many reactions, especially with reduced iron and copper (these are forms of these two metals that are more easily absorbed). It also plays a role in the manufacture of neurotransmitters and of collagen, which is such an important part of our connective tissue.
Vitamin C plays a key role supporting the immune system to help fight infection. It does this by boosting leukocyte (white blood cell) function and increasing interferon (a protein released by white cells to ramp up the immune response to kill pathogens or “bad guys”). It also keeps bones strong and healthy by increasing absorption of calcium and iron, while helping to remove excess toxic substances like copper, lead and mercury. Vitamin C makes the so-called stress hormones like epinephrine. Since this is so, when experiencing increased stress (emotional, chemical or physical) we need more vitamin C. Vitamin C is used to manufacture neurotransmitters and also helps release energy from food. Together with zinc it lowers cholesterol and helps the body absorb amino acids from the digestion of protein.
The most well known example of vitamin C deficiency is scurvy. The symptoms of this include bleeding gums, loss of teeth, delayed wound healing, loss of appetite, fatigue, hysteria and depression.
Vitamin C is also a powerful antihistamine and helps with allergies and asthma, where histamine is released. It may reduce the risk of cancer, including cancers of the mouth, gullet (esophagus), lung, stomach, colon, cervix and breast. Some studies have shown that mega-doses of vitamin C have inhibited tumor growth and prolonged the survival of individuals with terminal cancer.
Vitamin C (with B12 and folic acid) helps prevent anemia and supports individuals who smoke and drink alcohol.
It is also vital for the regeneration of other antioxidants including vitamin E and glutathione. The latter is probably the body’s most powerful antioxidant but is poorly absorbed as a supplement. Taking vitamin C increases and maintains glutathione levels which is therefore very important for individuals with an MTHFR gene polymorphism (a gene that does not work as it should)which reduces the body’s ability to produce glutathione.
What amount of Vitamin C do you need each day?
Vitamin C is a very safe vitamin but is excreted within 3-4 hours of consumption so dosages should be repeated at intervals during the day.
The DRI (Daily Recommended Intake) /RDA (Recommended DailyAllowance) of dietary vitamin C are listed below:
Please Note: By definition, the DRI/RDA recommendations apply only to 98% of healthy individuals and are not sufficient for those with higher nutrient requirements based upon their biochemical individuality, genetics, health status, medications, deficiencies, lifestyle, and toxic exposures.
Daily intake of dietary vitamin C (according to the National Academy of Sciences) is listed below.
- Birth - 6 months: 40 mg (Adequate intake)
- Infants 6 - 12 months: 50 mg (Adequate intake)
- Children 1 - 3 years: 15 mg
- Children 4 - 8 years: 25 mg
- Children 9 - 13 years: 45 mg
- Adolescent girls 14 - 18 years: 65 mg
- Adolescent boys 14 - 18 years: 75 mg
- Men over 18 years: 90 mg
- Women over 18 years: 75 mg
- Pregnant women 14 - 18 years: 80 mg
- Pregnant women over 18 years: 85 mg
- Breastfeeding women 14 - 18 years: 115 mg
- Breastfeeding women over 18 years: 120 mg
Recommended DailyAllowance 60mg/Day
Optimal Daily Allowance 2,000mg/Day
What are possible Vitamin C deficiency conditions and symptoms?
Bleeding or inflamed gums (gingivitis)
Frequent Cold or Infection
High blood pressure (hypertension)
Hives- allergic rashes
Loss of appetite
Preeclampsia and premature rupture of fetal membranes (PROM)
Slow wound healing
Stress and Anxiety
What are possible Vitamin C excess symptoms?
Vitamin C is extremely safe. Diarrhea, intestinal distension and gas are the most common results of excess. Some studies suggest that the use of prolonged very high dose Vitamin C may cause kidney stones. Other studies dispute this with an intake of 10 grams (10,000mg) per day not showing this side effect. It is recommended that additional magnesium be supplemented with vitamin C, to keep calcium soluble and to reduce the risk of kidney stones. Since kidney stones are a risk, vitamin C supplementation should be avoided in individuals with uric acid stones or kidney stones. It should also be avoid in Glucose 6 Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency (an enzyme required to maintain healthy red blood cell membranes where vitamin C may cause the red cells to break down) and hemochromatosis (where iron is poorly excreted and vitamin C worsens the issue by increasing iron absorption).
Vitamin C tablets should not be chewed as the ascorbic acid may damage teeth.
What steals Vitamin C from the body?
Exposure to oxygen.
Smoking (each cigarette destroys 25-100mg of Vitamin C)
Environmental toxins - especially carbon monoxide from gas-burning and car fumes
Allergy and elevated histamine production
Drugs that deplete Vitamin C levels include:
Nonselective Non Steroidal Antinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): Ibuprofen, Naproxen (Naprosyn) and Sulindac (Clinoril)
Antifugal medication: Amphotericin B (Fungizone)
What tests can be used to assess Vitamin C levels?
Vitamin C in serum deficiency <0.2mg/dl
Blood level - maximum concentration in the blood system isapproximately 1.4mg/dl
What foods contain the highest amounts of Vitamin C?
TOP 10 Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) rich foods are:
1. Red and Green Chili Peppers 243mg/100g
Recipe: Colorado Pork Green Chilli
2. Guavas 228mg/100g
Recipe: Paleo Guava Cupcakes
3. Yellow peppers 184mg/100g
Recipe: Lime Infused Fajitas
4. Fresh thyme 160mg/100g
Recipe: One Pan Lemon Turmeric Chicken
5. Fresh parsley 133mg/100g
Recipe: Cod in Parsley Sauce
6. Raw kale 120mg/100g
Recipe: Raw Kale Salad
7. Kiwi fruit 93mg/100g
Recipe: Paleo Upside Down Kiwi Cake
8. Broccoli 89mg/100g
Recipe: Chicken Alfredo Bake
9. Brussels sprouts 79mg/100g
Recipe: Creamy Chicken Thighs with Bacon Brussel Sprouts
10. Papaya 62mg/100g
Recipe: Green Papaya Salad
What are the best Vitamin C products?
Supplemental forms are buffered Vitamin C, magnesium ascorbate (mildly alkaline and better tolerated) and Ester C.
It has been shown that taking Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, (a group of antioxidant plant compounds derived from fruits such as citrus fruits and blackcurrants) may increase its effect.
Vitamin C should taken, with food, at regular intervals during the day because the excess is excreted within 3-4 hours of consumption.
Source: Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) |University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/vitamin-c-ascorbic-acid#ixzz35NYpLjW9
University of Maryland Medical Center
Sidney. M.D, Pangborn.Jon Autism effective Biomedical Treatments 2005
Lord S.Richard, BralleyJ. Alexander, Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine 2ndEd 2008
Sharon, Michael Dr.Complete Nutrition 2002
Murray. T. Michael.Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements 1996
Holford. Patrick The Optimum Nutrition Bible 2012
Laake. Dana Nutrient Chart (not published)
Groff. Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism 5th 2009
Gibson Principles of Nutritional Assessment 2nd Ed. 2007
Clinical Nutrition:A functional Approach 2nd Ed. IFM 2004
Harpers review of Biochemistry. Lange Med 26 Ed 2009
Office of Dietary Supplements, NIH Fact sheets 2010
Balch. A. Phyllis CNC Prescription for Nutritional Healing 2002
This article was written by Jonathan Tommey, CCN and Bella Grace, NTP. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Content should not be considered a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.
Isabella Grace is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner focusing on toxin-free, natural living to its fullest extent. Her mission is to provide personalized integrative health solutions to create sustainable, lifelong change and enable you to live, love, and serve at your fullest health potential.
Paleo Apple Strudel
Organic Apple Strudel, free from grains, refined sugar and junk. Paleo friendly!
Paleo Caramel Apple Bundt Cakes
Mini Paleo Bundt Cakes with a Caramel Apple Filling and Honey Almond Drizzle.