Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, plays a part in creating healthy immune and musculoskeletal systems. Since your body does not store vitamin C, it relies on food to get the vitamin C it needs. While citrus fruits are the most commonly thought of source of vitamin C, many other fruits and vegetables can provide your body with the daily amount it needs. Synthetic sources of the vitamin are also available, but it is easy to incorporate vitamin C-rich foods into your diet.
While many people associate vitamin C with cold and flu prevention, its benefits extend beyond a healthy immune system. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that plays a vital role in forming the connective tissue that holds the many parts of your body together. It also prevents bruising by strengthening capillaries, helps heal wounds, creates stronger gums and teeth, and helps your body absorb iron.
Typical Sources of Vitamin C
Vitamin C occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, but it can also be taken synthetically as a supplement in tablet, capsule or chewable form. Oranges and other citrus fruits are the most commonly known sources of vitamin C.
Other Sources of Vitamin C
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, fruits high in vitamin C include watermelon, papaya, grapefruit, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, mango, tomatoes and dark berries, including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries. Vegetables high in vitamin C include green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, raw and cooked leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, as well as potatoes and winter squash.
Getting More Vitamin C
For men over 18, the University of Maryland Medical Center recommends 90 mg of vitamin C daily. For women over 18, 75 mg of vitamin C is recommended. Smokers and women who are breast-feeding require slightly more: smokers should have an additional 35 mg daily while women who are breast-feeding should have 120 mg daily. Getting more vitamin C in your diet from fruit and vegetable sources is easy with a little bit of planning. Vitamin C is sensitive to light, air and heat, so you'll get the most vitamin C if you eat fruits and vegetables raw or lightly cooked. The American Dietetic Association suggests spending a few minutes every few days cutting up a variety of fruits and vegetables, putting them in reusable containers, and leaving them in the refrigerator for quick snacking or bagged lunches. Remember that the more varied and colorful your plate, the likelier you are to get more vitamin C, and vitamins in general, in your diet.
As with any dietary supplement, consult your physician before increasing your intake of vitamin C, especially if it is from synthetic sources as vitamin C can interact with many medications. Vitamin C alone is not a known cure for different medical conditions and should not be used in place of prescribed medication unless otherwise directed by a physician.