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8 Foods High in Vitamin C (+ Best Ways To Consume Them)

Medically Approved by Dr. Edward Salko

Table of Contents

lady cutting up foods that are high in vitamin c

Vitamin C (a.k.a ascorbic acid) is a must-have nutrient for boosting your immune system and keeping many functions of your body at an optimum rate and efficient condition. You can get sufficient amounts of vitamin C from various food sources that are easy to find and include in your daily meal. 

While oranges may be the first source to come to mind when it comes to foods high in vitamin C, other choices provide equal or even higher concentrations of this nutrient. Check out these vitamin C-rich foods and how to incorporate them into your diet.

Importance of Vitamin C in Your Health

Vitamin C has immune system-boosting properties that keep you safe from various forms of diseases. A vitamin C-enriched diet helps increase white blood cell (WBC) production. These cells are your first line of defense against infection. Plus, it contributes to keeping healthy skin and bones, as well as a well-functioning cardiovascular system.

Research has also shown that vitamin C can help manage and minimze common cold symptoms. In addition, it may help prevent more serious respiratory infections, such as pneumonia. 

Quick Tip: Vitamin C deficiency can impact your skin health, energy, and metabolism, immunity against diseases. The best way to know if you have insufficient ascorbic acid is to see your doctor and take a vitamin C blood test that will support its diagnosis. 

8 Best Dietary Sources of Vitamin C

Cute women drinking orange juice

Various fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. But several few could supply more than enough of the required dietary intake if you know exactly how to add them to your daily diet. The following are the top foods high in vitamin C that you should include in your diet. 

  1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits are renowned for their vibrant flavors, refreshing qualities, and richness in vitamin C. While oranges are a well-known source of this nutrient, other citrus fruits can deliver an equal, if not more, zesty burst of vitamin C to your diet, like grapefruits, pomelo, limes, and lemons. The list below shows how much vitamin C you can get from a single fruit of citrus, based on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

  • Orange: 69.7 mg
  • Grapefruit: 76.8 mg
  • Lime: 19.5 mg
  • Lemon: 30.7 mg
  • Pomelo: 371.5 mg

You can get enough vitamin C from one orange or grapefruit each day. Keep in mind, however, that citrus fruits may contain different amounts of vitamin C depending on things like their size, ripeness, and type. 

How to add citrus fruits to your diet

You can enjoy citrus fruits in many ways and acquire the much-needed ascorbic acid for good health. You can choose to peel and eat them as a snack, squeeze them for fresh juice, or incorporate them into various recipes. 

Citrus fruits can add a tangy twist to salads, marinades, dressings, and desserts. They can also be a refreshing addition to your morning smoothies or infused water. 

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables

The cruciferous family retains its reputation as a nutrient-dense powerhouse. These vegetables, characterized by their cross-shaped flowers, are not only high in fiber but also packed with vitamin C. 

Adding cruciferous vegetables into your meals, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale, not only enhances your vitamin C intake but also provides a range of other health benefits. Specifically, you’ll get the following amounts of vitamin C for every 100 grams of these cruciferous vegetables:

  • Broccoli: 89.2 mg
  • Cauliflower: 48.2 mg
  • Cabbage: 98 IU
  • Brussels sprouts: 85 mg

Aside from being rich in vitamin C, cruciferous vegetables are also known for their antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory benefits. Hence, they can reduce your risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis. 

How to add cruciferous vegetables to your diet

Not everyone is a fan of cruciferous vegetables. But there are plenty of ways you can enjoy the likes of broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale. You can steam, roast, sauté, or stir-fry them to enhance their flavor and palatability. Turn them into a side dish, add them to salads, soups, and stews, or even blend the vegetables into smoothies for an extra nutrient boost.

  1. Red Peppers

If you’re looking for a vibrant way to increase your vitamin C intake, look no further than red peppers. Red bell peppers contain 127.7 mg of vitamin C for every 100 grams. 

These crunchy and colorful vegetables are not only a great source of vitamin C but also have high concentrations of other essential nutrients, like vitamin B6, potassium, and folate.

How to add red peppers to your diet

Red peppers are commonly added to salads, soups, and pasta sauces. You also have it roasted, stuffed, pureed, or added to savory meals. It’s also easier to find recipes that include bell pepper considering its versatility in the kitchen. 

  1. Strawberries

Another delicious and nutritious option is strawberry. Strawberries contain dietary fiber, folate, and antioxidants on top of vitamin C. In fact, for every 100 grams of strawberries, you can obtain 58.8 mg of ascorbic acid, as per USDA

Plus, it’s a ubiquitous ingredient for many healthy alternatives for many delicious meal options. When prepared right, it can become a preferable main source of vitamin C.  

How to add strawberries to your diet

You can easily consume strawberries as a snack in its natural form. But you can also add them to your smoothies or even salads. If you’re a connoisseur of healthy desserts, try topping it to your yogurt and desserts. Still, the best way to consume strawberries is to eat them raw, without the added artificial sweeteners or other calorie-packed ingredients.

  1. Topical Fruits (Papaya and Guava)

If you’re in the mood for something tropical, papaya and guava are excellent choices to satisfy your cravings while boosting your vitamin C intake. 

Papaya, also known as pawpaw, is a soft buttery fruit that tastes like a blend of mango and cantaloupe. It is not only delicious but also a fantastic source of vitamin C. One cup of fresh papaya can provide approximately 98% of your daily recommended vitamin C intake. Additionally, papaya is packed with dietary fiber, folate, and vitamin A.

Guava, on the other hand, is another vitamin C champion. Depending on the variety, one fresh guava can contain anywhere from 73 mg to 247 mg of vitamin C, giving you about 400% of your daily recommended intake. This tropical fruit is also rich in dietary fiber, vitamin E, and potassium.

How to add papaya and guava to your diet

Both papaya and guava can be enjoyed as a refreshing snack or added to fruit salads and smoothies. The soft and juicy flesh of papaya can be scooped out with a spoon, while guava can be sliced and eaten as is. Not only will you enjoy these tropical delights, but you’ll also get a decent dose of vitamin C.

  1. Melons (Cantaloupe and Watermelon)

Melons, like cantaloupe and watermelon, are not only refreshing but also packed with vitamin C. Cantaloupe, often considered a “filler fruit,” is an excellent source of multiple nutrients, including beta-carotene, potassium, fiber, and folate. One cup of diced cantaloupe provides 57.3 mg of vitamin C

Watermelon, with its high water content, is a hydrating and nutritious fruit. While it may not be as high in vitamin C as other fruits, it still contributes to your daily intake. You can get 23.2 mg of vitamin C for every sliced wedge. Watermelon is also rich in the antioxidant called lycopene, giving it its vibrant red color and offering potential health benefits. 

How to add canteloupe and watermelon to your diet

You can add cantaloupes to fruit salads or use them as a base for refreshing summer smoothies. On the other hand, you can enjoy chilled watermelon slices on a hot summer day or blend them into a refreshing agua fresca for a vitamin C boost.

  1. Tomatoes 

Although often mistaken for a vegetable, the tomato is actually a fruit that can be a delicious source of vitamin C. The vitamin C content in tomatoes can vary depending on size, variety, and ripeness. However, they still offer a significant amount of this essential nutrient. 

One cup of tomatoes (185 ) contains 24.7 mg of vitamin C. They are also great sources of potassium, folate, and vitamin K. 

How to add tomatoes to your diet

Tomatoes are a kitchen staple across the globe. They can be eaten in many different ways. You can add them raw in salads, roasted in sauces, or sun-dried for a concentrated burst of flavor. Whichever option you choose, it will add a nutritious touch to your meals. 

Quick Tip: While tomatoes are overall healthy and an ideal ingredient for their many nutrients, you may want to control their inclusion if you have kidney disease. A tomato may have good amounts of vitamin C, but it’s also rich in potassium, impacting an impaired kidney. Read all about it in our guide about renal diet and the foods you should avoid

  1. Kiwi

Kiwifruit, or simply kiwi, is an excellent source of vitamin C. You can obtain 60 IU of vitamin C by eating just one kiwi at breakfast, as per USDA. Kiwis are also a good source of fiber, vitamin E, and potassium. If you want an extra boost or nutrients, try eating a kiwi without its skin.

How to add kiwis to your diet

Kiwi can be enjoyed on its own as a snack, added to salads or yogurt, or blended into smoothies. Its tangy and sweet flavor adds a refreshing twist to any dish. Incorporating kiwi into your diet is a delicious way to increase your vitamin C intake and enjoy the numerous health benefits this fruit offers.

Quick Tip: Many sources of vitamin C and other nutrients are fruits and vegetables. Hence, if you’re health-conscious, it’s easy to choose a plant-based diet altogether. However, keep in mind that when transitioning to this diet, you should consider other health implications as well. Check out our guides on things you need to understand before becoming a vegan or vegetarian:

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the recommended daily dietary intake for vitamins C?

The recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C is 75 mg for adult women and 90 mg for adult men. Of course, this is only on average, which means your need may vary depending on whether you have nutrient deficiencies. The best way to know for sure is to consult your doctor about how much vitamin C you should take. 

Is natural vitamin C better than supplements?

Vitamin C from fruits and vegetables is more beneficial than synthetic vitamin supplements since they are less processed and easily absorbed. On top of that, these dietary sources also have other nutrients that maintain the other functions of the body, ensuring optimum health and wellness. 

What is the main food source of vitamin C?

Citrus fruits are the most common and best source of vitamin C for two reasons: they contain high concentrations of ascorbic acid, and they are widely available everywhere. Fruits like oranges, lemons, and limes can be found in markets around the globe, unlike other vitamin C sources that can be endemic in certain regions. 

The Bottom Line

Adding various foods high in vitamin C into your diet is a well-rounded approach to make sure you meet your daily recommended intake. Citrus fruits, cruciferous vegetables, red peppers, strawberries, papaya, guava, cantaloupe, watermelon, tomatoes, and kiwi are all delicious and nutritious options to consider. You can boost your immune system, produce collagen for healthy skin, and enjoy other health benefits. 

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