When we’re looking to boost our immune system, maybe to stave off a cold or lower stress levels through enhanced nutrition, chances are we’re reaching for fruits with a high amount of Vitamin C.
We’ve all heard about Vitamin C and the importance of consuming an antioxidant-rich diet. But what makes this vitamin a beneficial ingredient for health, body and skin? Here’s a simple guide to foods naturally high in Vitamin C and how you can ensure you get enough of the good stuff in your everyday routine.
What is Vitamin C?
Known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is essential for optimized health and healing.
As an antioxidant, the vitamin protects cells against free radicals (molecules that accelerate damage to healthy cells) to help reduce the risk of cancer, signs of aging and heart disease.
It’s also a key nutrient in the healing process. Because the body doesn’t produce or store the antioxidant on its own, consuming Vitamin C is necessary for building and repairing collagen, cartilage, blood vessels and muscle fibers.
Why is Vitamin C Important?
Vitamin C is essential for growth and repair within the body. As a water-soluble nutrient (meaning it dissolves in water and an excess amount leaves the body through urine), it’s important to consistently consume adequate levels of Vitamin C because the body can’t produce it naturally or store it for future use.
Antioxidants (such as Vitamin C) help cells repair and heal. For example, Vitamin C promotes collagen formation, which can impact and accelerate the healing rate of a wound. Sore from a heavy workout at the gym? Consuming adequate amounts of antioxidants, specifically Vitamin C, speeds up tissue repair and encourages muscle regeneration.
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is helpful for proper nutrition, but the recommended amount of Vitamin C depends on the individual. For example, the recommended amount for an adult woman is 75 mg, while an adult male requires 90mg, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Supplements are also an option but should be taken in moderation to avoid overdoing it.
Depending on the purpose behind taking elevated amounts (to boost your immune system at the onset of cold symptoms, for example), the upper limit of Vitamin C consumption is around 2,000mg.
While your body will naturally eliminate any excess intake, taking too much Vitamin C could cause stomach cramping and digestive discomfort.
Important: Before taking any supplements, consult a health professional to ensure it’s safe for your health and needs.
Which Food Sources Contain the Most Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is found in fruits and vegetables. When you think about this antioxidant, an orange is often the first source that comes to mind – and for a good reason. One small orange contains approximately 51 mg of Vitamin C, which is nearly a day’s worth of the good stuff. Do strawberries have Vitamin C? Yes! Another delicious option with high levels of Vitamin C is a cup of sliced strawberries, coming in at 97mg of the vitamin.
Fill your plate at mealtime with additional fruits and vegetables, like kiwi or cauliflower, and you’ll get ample Vitamin C in your everyday diet. Citrus fruits – orange, lemon, and grapefruit – are the most commonly associated with this nutrient. Still, you’ll find Vitamin C in an assortment of readily available produce, including spinach and broccoli, green, yellow and red peppers, kale, kiwi, strawberries and pineapple, to name a few.
Looking further afield, one fruit with an extraordinarily high level of Vitamin C is the exotic Kakadu plum. A superfood native to Australia, the Kakadu plum contains 100 times more Vitamin C than an orange! Other excellent sources of the vitamin include the lilikoi (also known as passionfruit) and the Amazonian camu camu berry. While a bit harder to find in your local grocery store, these unusual superfoods can be highly impactful in achieving optimal nutrition and a healthy diet.
Incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into your diet not only ensures that you’re getting enough Vitamin C but also a multitude of beneficial compounds, minerals, and antioxidants that nourish your body and skin from the inside out.
What is the Role of Vitamin C in Skin Care?
Now you know how helpful Vitamin C is for the body, and that it has got plenty of benefits for skin health, too! Incorporating this powerful antioxidant into your skin care routine helps to:
- Boost collagen production
- Minimize the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation
- Protect against damaging free radicals, which accelerate signs of premature aging (fine lines and wrinkles)
One of the biggest factors in skin damage is consistent sun exposure without sunscreen. But sunscreen isn’t the only product you can apply to give your skin the most protection against harmful UV rays. Pairing sunscreen with a daily application of Vitamin C serum offers a double defense against the effects of UV rays and the free radicals it creates.
To learn more about how powerful sunscreen and Vitamin C are when used together, visit our blog post detailing everything you need to know about this year-round routine!
Which Vitamin C-rich foods are your favorites, and do you notice a difference in your skin or health when you’re eating a lot of them? Let us know in the comments.