Why Vitamin C matters for babies, tots and mama
What to Know
- Learn why vitamin C is important for your health
- How much vitamin C you need according to your age
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.
Your specific vitamin C daily requirements vary by age, gender and life stage:
- Babies 0 – 6 months require 40 mg
- Infants 7 – 12 months require 50 mg
- Children 1 – 3 years require 15 mg
- Children 4 – 8 years require 25 mg
- Children 9 – 13 years require 45 mg
- Adolescent boys 14 – 18 years require 75 mg
- Adolescent girls 14 – 18 years require 65 mg
- Adult men require 90 mg
- Adult women require 75 mg
- Pregnant teens require 80 mg
- Pregnant women require 85 mg
- Breastfeeding teens require 115 mg
- Breastfeeding women require 120 mg
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.
What to Do
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:
- Bell peppers
- Brussels sprouts
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.