Foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, green peppers, kiwi fruit, and broccoli. Ascorbic acid is important for the growth and repair of body tissues.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that performs a variety of important functions within the body. The human body does not make this vital nutrient; it must be consumed in sufficient amounts daily from foods in the diet. Unused ascorbic acid is excreted from the body in urine.
Foods High in Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables. Foods high in this vitamin include red and green peppers, citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cantaloupe, cabbage, cauliflower, and potatoes. Both fresh and canned fruits and vegetables count as good sources, along with supplements and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals.
It is possible to get at least 200 mg of ascorbic acid by eating five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. The average daily amount needed by males and females aged 19 years and over is 90 mg and 75 mg, respectively. Smokers and pregnant or breastfeeding women need higher amounts.
Vitamin C is sensitive to heat and light and can be depleted by lengthy food storage and cooking. Microwaving and lightly steaming foods may help minimize nutrient loss during cooking. Luckily, many foods containing ascorbic acid are generally consumed raw and are unaffected by cooking methods.
The Importance of Ascorbic Acid in the Diet
Ascorbic acid is of vital importance in the diet, assisting with:
Growth, development, and repair of body tissues, including bones, teeth, and cartilage
Collagen synthesis, a protein needed for making skin, tendons, ligaments, scar tissue, and blood vessels
Synthesis of L-carnitine
Synthesis of some neurotransmitters
Absorption of non-heme iron, the type of iron found in plants
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are natural by-products of energy production. The build-up of free radicals may speed up the aging process and contribute to medical conditions such as heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. Vitamin C also helps prevent damage caused by pollution and toxins in the environment.
Ascorbic acid deficiency can cause a variety of symptoms, such as dry hair and skin, delayed wound healing, poor resistance to infection, inflamed or bleeding gums, easy bruising, weak tooth enamel, anemia, and swollen joints. In severe cases of deficiency, a condition known as scurvy may develop. Scurvy is characterized by gum disease, bleeding beneath the skin, fatigue, and anemia.
A balanced diet containing a variety of fruits and vegetables is the best way to obtain adequate amounts of vitamin C. Supplementation is an option if nutrient intake from foods is low, but vitamin pills are no substitute for a healthy diet.