MS, RD, LDN, CSSD, CBS
Rachel holds a Master’s in Nutrition Communication from Tufts University and is also a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She works as a nutrition and wellness coach with focuses on infant and maternal nutrition, and mindful eating.
Found in most fruits and vegetables, Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body, meaning it protects our cells from damage by free radicals (think cigarette smoke, air pollution or too much sun). Vitamin C also supports the immune function, enhances the absorption of iron and helps make collagen, which our bodies need to heal wounds. And while vitamin C does not prevent colds, research shows that it may help decrease cold symptoms as well as the duration of a cold.
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Your specific vitamin C daily requirements vary by age, gender and life stage:
Note that if you are a smoker, you should add 35 mg to your relevant category.
In its natural state, vitamin C is primarily found in fruits (especially citrus varieties) and vegetables. Plant foods particularly high in vitamin C include papaya, bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, pineapple, oranges, grapefruit, kiwi and cantaloupe.
Food-based vitamin C is prone to damage by heat (including when foods are cooked) and won’t store well over long periods of time, so it’s good to include raw vitamin C-rich foods in your regular diet.
Called ascorbic acid in synthetic form, vitamin C can be its own standalone supplement and is commonly incorporated in most multivitamins or prenatals. It also appears as a preservative in many packaged foods.
The good news is that vitamin C deficiency is rare. Vitamin C inadequacy can occur in some people (those with a very limited food repertoire, a disease like severe malabsorption or smokers), but if you regularly eat fruits and vegetables, you will likely be getting an adequate amount of Vitamin C.
Eat and offer your child a variety of fruits and vegetables every day
Produce should account for half of what you put on your plate. These plant foods are especially high in vitamin C:
Know that it is not difficult to meet vitamin C recommendations
For example, eating half a cup of red bell pepper or 1 medium size orange will likely take your over your daily requirement.
Increase your vitamin C intake if you are a smoker
If you have regular exposure to smoking, make sure to increase your vitamin C intake by 35mg above the recommended daily amount for your age.
Vitamin C The National Institute of Health. Date accessed 2 Mar. 2018.