10 Foods High in Vitamin C

Medically Reviewed By Kim Chin, RD
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Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin found in many foods. It is an essential vitamin needed for many functions in the body, including healthy growth and development. Vitamin C, acting as an antioxidant, can help protect cells from damage due to free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms found in many places, such as the environment, pollution, and some foods.

Besides being an antioxidant, it has an abundance of health benefits, such as helping the immune system protect the body from diseases, aiding in collagen production, and improving the absorption of iron. Luckily, you can get vitamin C from various foods, from citrus fruits to vegetables.

This article will explain which foods are high in vitamin C and how their vitamin and mineral content can contribute to overall health and wellness.

What is vitamin C?

oranges
Mariana Ibanez/Stocksy United

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many different foods. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve readily in water but are not stored well by the body. As humans are unable to synthesize or produce vitamin C, we must get our required daily amount from mainly fruits and vegetables.

The amount of vitamin C each person requires depends on their age. The table below illustrates the daily recommended amount in milligrams (mg).

Age or stage in lifeDaily recommended amount
From birth up to 6 months40 mg
Infants ages 1–12 months50 mg
Children ages 1–3 years15 mg
Children ages 4–8 years25 mg
Children ages 9–13 years45 mg
Male teens ages 14–18 years75 mg
Female teens ages 14–18 years65 mg
Adult males90 mg
Adult females75 mg

People who are pregnant or nursing will require a larger amount of vitamin C.

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “female” and “women” when discussing people assigned female at birth.

Learn more about the difference between sex and gender here.

What are the benefits of vitamin C?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) details the numerous health benefits of vitamin C, including:

  • acting as an antioxidant, helping to reduce damage to the body by free radicals
  • aiding in the production of collagen, a protein that helps wounds heal and improves skin quality
  • improving the absorption of iron, particularly from plant-based foods
  • helping the immune system to function and protect the body from illnesses
  • reducing the chance of conditions such as scurvy
  • lowering the risks of particular types of cancer, such as lung, colon, or breast cancer
  • slowing down eye-related conditions such as macular degeneration and cataracts

Learn more about vitamin C.

What foods are high in vitamin C?

Vitamin C is abundant in many fruits and vegetables. Some foods, such as cereals or juice, may be fortified with vitamin C.

(Note: To calculate the daily value (%DV) of each food mentioned below against how much we require per day, we have used the 90 mg daily recommended amount.)

1. Lemons

Sailors used lemons and other citrus fruits in the 1700s to prevent conditions such as scurvy. A 100 g lemon provides around 53 mg of vitamin C, which is around half of your daily value.

Lemon juice is a powerful antioxidant and can also help lower blood pressure.

Read more about antioxidants.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a cruciferous plant from the cabbage family, with many health benefits. 100 g of cooked and drained broccoli contains around 65 mg of vitamin C, which is 57% of your daily value.

Studies have shown that a phytochemical in broccoli and other leafy green vegetables, called sulforaphane, can prevent and treat various cancers.

Learn more about the health benefits of broccoli.

3. Kale

Another cruciferous vegetable is kale, which contains a very high 93 mg of vitamin C per 100 g, making it over 103% of your daily value when eaten raw. It also has a high amount of various vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin K.

However, cooking kale does reduce its vitamin C content.

4. Chili peppers

Chili peppers are great for adding hot flavor to food, but they are also high in essential vitamins and minerals. 100 g of green chili peppers contain 242 mg of vitamin C, delivering 121% of the daily value.

They are also high in antioxidants and may help prevent obesity.

5. Guavas

Guava is a refreshing tropical fruit, often described as tasting like a cross between a pear and a strawberry. 100 g of guava contains 228 mg of vitamin C, making it 138% of the daily value.

Guava leaves, which are often used for tea, have a multitude of benefits alongside the fruit, including:

  • having anticancer and antioxidant properties
  • being high in phytochemicals, which may protect cells from damage
  • having anti-inflammatory properties
  • helping with digestive ailments such as stomach aches

6. Yellow bell peppers

Raw yellow bell peppers are high in vitamin C, providing 184 mg per 100 g. This means it is 380% of the daily value, making it one of the highest vitamin C foods on the list.

A 2015 study found that bell peppers of all colors have a host of health benefits, such as:

  • being high in lycopene, a powerful antioxidant
  • being high in carotenoids, which can prevent damage from free radicals
  • being a good source of bioactive compounds, which can promote good health

7. Oranges

Oranges are well known as a good source of vitamin C, though there are other fruits and vegetables with higher amounts.

100 g of raw orange contains 59 mg of vitamin C, which is over half of the daily value. Citrus fruits, in general, are a good source of vitamin C, including:

  • grapefruit
  • limes
  • mandarins
  • pomelo

Reports also show that consuming oranges daily can decrease inflammation in the body.

8. Strawberries

A 100 g handful of strawberries contain almost 59 mg of vitamin C, which again is over half of the daily value. The health benefits of strawberries are abundant, including:

  • being a rich source of bioactive compounds
  • preventing inflammatory disorders
  • reducing obesity-related disorders
  • lowering the risk of heart disease

9. Blackcurrants

Blackcurrants are another delicious berry high in vitamin C and other health benefits. 100 g of blackcurrants contain 181 mg of vitamin C, making it 113% of the daily value.

Alongside vitamin C, blackcurrants are high in anthocyanins, which have anticancer, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory effects. They are also responsible for the deep purple or blue pigment found in many fruits and vegetables.

10. Tomato juice

Tomato juice, and tomatoes themselves, are also a good source of vitamin C. Tomato juice from concentrate contains almost 50 mg of vitamin C, making it over half of the daily value.

Juices contain less nutritional fiber than eating the actual fruit or vegetable, but there are still various health benefits. Tomatoes and tomato juice are high in the antioxidant lycopene.

Summary

Many foods are high in vitamin C, particularly fruits and vegetables. It is an essential vitamin with various health benefits, including helping the immune system protect the body from diseases, aiding in heart and skin health, and warding off certain diseases such as scurvy.

A diet that is high in vitamin C is a good step toward overall health and wellness. Fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C include broccoli, kale, oranges, and blackcurrants.

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Medical Reviewer: Kim Chin, RD
Last Review Date: 2022 Oct 19
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