Many people do not get enough vitamin C, an important nutrient, advises the American Academy of Family Physicians. Your body needs vitamin C to produce collagen, a key component of connective tissue, as well as L-carnitine, an amino acid that helps metabolize fat, and some neurotransmitters, which carry messages between nerve cells and muscles. Vitamin C also is an antioxidant that helps to ward off cell and tissue damage in your body. Despite vitamin C's nutritional benefits, the National Institutes of Health cautions that there is no conclusive proof that consuming it prevents or cures specific diseases -- including cancer, heart disease or the common cold. The best way to absorb vitamin C is through healthy foods.
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Citrus fruits are well-known as a source of vitamin C. Traditional stories of 18th-century sailors who suffered and even died from a now-rare disease called scurvy on long voyages recount how the sailors were helped by bringing along citrus fruits and juices. Major citrus sources of vitamin C, with serving size and milligrams per serving, include: 3/4 cup orange juice, 93 milligrams; one medium orange, 70 milligrams; 3/4 cup grapefruit juice, 70 milligrams; half a medium grapefruit, 39 milligrams; and one tangerine, 22 milligrams.
Recommended daily amounts of vitamin C vary according to age, sex and other factors. For example, an 8-year-old needs 25 milligrams, while an adult man and woman need 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams, respectively. Pregnant women need 80 to 85 milligrams per day, and smokers need 35 milligrams more per day than nonsmokers. Other fruits that are good sources of vitamin C, with serving size and milligrams per serving, include: one medium kiwi fruit, 71 milligrams; 1/4 cup peaches, 59 milligrams; 1/2 cup strawberries, 49 milligrams; one-quarter of a medium papaya, 47 milligrams; 1/2 cup cantaloupe, 29 milligrams; 1/2 cup raspberries, 21 milligrams; half a medium plantain, 16 milligrams; and 1/2 cup honeydew melon, 15 milligrams.
If you love fruits and veggies with vitamin C, you don't have to worry about consuming too much of it: The National Institutes of Health says high amounts of vitamin C do not cause serious harmful effects. Some vegetables that are good sources of vitamin C include: 1/2 cup red pepper, 95 milligrams; 1/2 cup cooked broccoli, 51 milligrams; 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts, 48 milligrams; 1/2 cup raw broccoli, 39 milligrams; 3/4 cup tomato juice, 33 milligrams; 1/4 cup raw green pepper, 30 milligrams; 1/2 cup cooked cabbage, 29 milligrams; one baked sweet potato, 29 milligrams; 1/2 cup raw cauliflower, 23 milligrams; 1/2 cup collards, 22 milligrams; and 1/2 cup turnip greens, 20 milligrams.