Foods richest in vitamin C

Foods richest in vitamin C

Of all the 13 vitamins we know, the most “famous” is certainly vitamin C: with the arrival of winter and the first rigors, it is usual to be told after a sneeze ” you need vitamin C! ”.

But is this a simple way of saying or is there some underlying truth?

Vitamin C contributes to many biological mechanisms within our bodies, starting with the immune system: it is in fact involved in supporting various cellular functions of both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

It is also a powerful antioxidant and protects our skin from the oxidative stress of the environment by supporting the functions of the epithelial barrier against pathogens: it is in fact an aid in wound healing, facilitates the formation of collagen and promotes healthy teeth and gums.

Deficiency cases and optimal levels

What happens if vitamin C is missing?

The first to discover it, even without knowing the vitamin yet, were the sailors, ever since man began to explore the seas: they often fell ill with scurvy, a disease that manifests itself with symptoms of apathy, anemia and loss of appetite, gum bleeding, tooth loss, muscle aches, fragility of capillaries and subcutaneous hemorrhages, which we now know are caused only by a severe deficiency of the vitamin .

This happened for a very specific reason: vitamin C is mainly contained in fruit and vegetables, but the long periods at sea made it impossible to get fresh food.

The foods that were known to prevent scurvy were already known and were called “antiscorbutics”, which is why the vitamin is also called “ascorbic acid”.

Instead a mild or moderate deficiency of vitamin C results in impaired immunity and increased susceptibility to infections. In short, we tend to get sick more.

However, an increased tendency to get sick can happen for many other reasons and associating it with a small deficiency of vitamin C is not immediate, especially if you think you are eating in a balanced way.

You may have a vitamin C deficiency if your gums bleed, bruise easily, your skin feels dry and flaky, you have muscle weakness and joint pain.

A vitamin C deficiency can also compromise wound healing, but supplementing it can promote the healing process.

At the same time, in the event of infection, vitamin C levels will be significantly affected, due to greater inflammation and greater metabolic demands on the body.

As regards the optimal levels it is useful to keep in mind the indications of the Italian Society of Human Nutrition, which established what should be the recommended intakes of vitamin C for the population: 105 mg per day for adult men, while for adult women it drops to 85 mg per day.

This requirement, on the other hand, increases during pregnancy (100 mg) and breastfeeding (130 mg), while it is slightly lower during developmental age depending on sex and age.

There is no universal agreement on these values: for example, a 2015 study by German, Austrian and Swiss nutrition societies defined reference values ​​for vitamin C intake of 110 mg / day for men, then extrapolating the needs in women and children starting from here and in relation to their body weight, all higher than the Italian ones.

This is why you must also pay attention to reading the labels: when you read a certain content of vitamin C in the nutritional information, this usually refers to the% of the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance), the recommended daily allowance , which, however, can vary in different countries.

For the Italian references, this value is also lower than the recommended daily intake indications of the SINU, because it refers to an average requirement of 80 mg suitable for the majority of the healthy population.

It is difficult to experience side effects from overdose, given that it is a water-soluble vitamin that is disposed of by the kidneys: so much so that SINU does not provide us with data on this.

However, very high doses of vitamin C can cause gastrointestinal disturbances and osmotic diarrhea, due to its lack of absorption.

List of foods that contain the most Vitamin C

As already mentioned, vitamin C is mainly contained in fresh foods, such as fruit and vegetables.

It is a particularly sensitive vitamin to light, air and heat, which is therefore easily deteriorated during storage and cooking treatments.

Here is a list of the foods that contain the most vitamin C per 100 g:

  • hot pepper 229 mg
  • black currant 200 mg
  • peppers 151 mg
  • kiwi 85 mg
  • Brussels sprouts 81 mg
  • cauliflower 59 mg
  • strawberries 54 mg
  • spinach 54 mg
  • oranges and lemons 50 mg

Ideal associations

Vitamin C interacts with the absorption of iron found in vegetables, fruits and nuts.

There are two types of iron contained in foods: heme iron, derived from hemoglobin and myoglobin, normally well absorbed and relatively little affected by other foods consumed in the same meal, and non-heme iron, the main dietary source, whose absorption is strongly influenced by the composition of the meals.

Ascorbic acid enhances the absorption of non-heme iron and can also cancel the inhibitory effect of this mechanism caused by products such as tea and calcium / phosphate of products such as milk and dairy products.

The influence of vitamin C in meals that have a lot of iron available may be less pronounced, such as those that contain meat, fish or poultry, sources of heme-type iron.

Instead, the enhancement of absorption of iron from vegetable meals, which contain mostly non-heme iron, is directly proportional to the amount of ascorbic acid present.

If you are considering taking a supplement, know that I normally recommend choosing low-dose, broad-spectrum multivitamins that “supplement” your diet.

Although, as mentioned, having negative effects from high doses of vitamin C is difficult, this may not be true in the case of pre-existing health problems (such as kidney damage or concomitance with medication): in this case always ask your doctor for advice.

What to do then?

If you took a look at the list I presented in the previous paragraph, you could have deduced for yourself that oranges are only in last place among the foods that could normally be included in your diet and that contain more vitamin C .

It ‘also true that vegetables such as peppers, cabbage and cauliflower should be cooked to be eaten, a gesture that will make us lose much of the vitamin in.

And keep in mind that you will never eat 100g of hot peppers!

However, considering for example a 150 g portion of fruit, you can reach (and exceed!) the daily amount of vitamin C by eating a couple of kiwis , or a portion and a half of strawberries (a small bowl) or oranges (one fruit and a half), perhaps dividing them throughout the day according to your normal habits.

If you want to know how to further improve your way of eating to understand the mechanisms of nutrition and ensure that your health is always at its best, I recommend that you take the Potential Nutrition course, included in Soul Camp ™.

If you want to get an idea, watch the free video lesson ” The timing of Nutrition ” which gives you scientific information, easy to learn, on how to eat to get better.

Food rich in vitamin C. Various natural sources of vitamins. Useful food for health and balanced diet. Prevention of avitaminosis. Man’s hand holds tag with name of vitamin C. Top view

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