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?

Bella Grace
The Top Vitamin C Rich Foods + Recipes

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)



Cervical dysplasia

Crohn’s disease



Easy bruising



Frequent Cold or Infection


Herpes Infection

High blood pressure (hypertension)

Hives- allergic rashes


Loss of appetite

Macular degeneration



Parkinson’s disease

Peptic ulcers

Periodontal disease

Preeclampsia and premature rupture of fetal membranes (PROM)

Rheumatoid arthritis


Skin ulcers

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:


Oral contraceptives

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
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.

Beef Bulgogi Bowls

Makes 2 Large Bowls


1 lb. grass-fed rib eye or sirloin steak

2 tablespoons cooking oil of choice

2 tablespoons coconut aminos

2 tablespoons freshly minced garlic

1 tablespoon raw honey or sweetener of choice

2 stems of green onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

4 cups dark leafy greens

2 cups roasted broccoli

3 large carrots, roasted

3 cups cauliflower rice

Homemade Mayo

+ hot sauce (to taste)

= spicy mayo!


1) To make the roasted vegetables, throw frozen broccoli and carrots onto a baking sheet, drizzle in cooking oil of choice, salt and pepper, and roast in the oven at 375F for 30 minutes or so. Remove and set aside.

2) Place the steaks in a large bowl with coconut aminos, minced garlic, raw honey, salt and pepper. Let marinate for 10-30 minutes.

3) In a large skillet, add cooking oil and saute the steaks (along with sauce) over medium high heat or until the steak is medium-well done.

4) Set the beef aside and slice into thin pieces.

5) Using the same pan, heat up your cauliflower rice in the skillet until piping hot.

5) To each bowl, add 2 cups of greens. Top greens with 1-2 carrots, 1 cup roasted broccoli, 1 1/2 cups cauliflower rice, 1/2 lb of steak and chopped green onion. Add a dollop of spicy mayo on the side, sprinkle with sesame seeds and enjoy!

Bella Grace

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.

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