Most Americans do not get adequate amounts of vitamins A and C in their diets, according to the FDA; that may be because they do not eat enough fruits and vegetables. Vitamins A and C are essential nutrients your body needs for good health. Knowing the best fruit and vegetable sources of these nutrients can help you see how easily you can meet your needs.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin necessary for your eye, immune and reproductive health, as well as the growth of bones and teeth. Beta carotene, the primary form of vitamin A is found in fruits and vegetables. Through digestion and metabolism, your body converts beta carotene into retinol, the active form of vitamin A. However, beta carotene also acts as an antioxidant in your body, protecting cells from oxidation by free radicals. This type of protection may help prevent certain types of cancers and heart disease. Adult men need 3,000 IU of vitamin A a day and women need 2,310 IU a day.
Fruits and Vegetable Sources of Vitamin A
The most frequently consumed fruits and vegetables with vitamin A in the American diet include carrots, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes and spinach, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. A 1/2 cup serving of boiled carrots contains 13,418 IU of vitamin A, meeting almost five times your daily needs. A 1/2 cup serving of boiled spinach contains 11,458 IU of vitamin A, 1 cup of cantaloupe contains 5,411 IU and 1 cup of baked sweet potato with the skin contains 38,436 IU. A 1/2 cup serving of boiled kale and 1 cup of vegetable soup also meet more than 100 percent of your daily vitamin A needs.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Adequate intake of vitamin C supports the synthesis of collagen, the protein that gives structure and youthfulness to your skin. Vitamin C is also necessary for normal growth and development, immune health and wound healing. Like beta carotene, vitamin C is also an important antioxidant, protecting your cells from free radical damage. Adult men need 90 mg of vitamin C a day and adult women need 75 mg.
Fruits and Vegetable Sources of Vitamin C
Most of the vitamin C in the American diet comes from citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomatoes products and potatoes, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. While a medium orange, with 70 mg of vitamin C, is a good source of vitamin C, a 1/2 cup serving of red peppers with 95 mg of vitamin C, makes it very easy for you to meet 100 percent of your daily needs. Kiwifruit is also high in vitamin C with 71 mg in one medium piece of fruit. Cantaloupe is another good source of vitamin C with 58 mg in a 1-cup serving. By comparison, a medium baked potato contains 20 mg of vitamin C, and a medium raw tomato, 16 mg. Other fruit and vegetable sources of vitamin C include spinach, green peppers, broccoli, strawberries and grapefruit.