Vitamin C Deficiency? Top 10 Vitamin C Foods You Have to Try Before Supplements
Most people know that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C. Oranges, grapefruit, pineapple, and kiwi fruits are known to be rich in vitamin C, but there are also other foods that contain a good amount of this essential vitamin. You might think that you don’t need to eat these foods because you are already taking vitamin supplements. However, these vitamin C foods are also rich in other nutritional benefits that are critical in building better health and stronger immune system. It’s time to end vitamin C deficiency and start including vitamin C foods into your diet.
All About Vitamin C
Vitamin C is also popularly known as ascorbic acid, which many people take as a vitamin supplement. Just like most vitamins, Vitamin C is water-soluble and can be found in many types of fruits, vegetables, and other foods. Humans need to consume vitamin C foods because our body cannot synthesize this vitamin inside our body, unlike other animals. One of its main functions is to help the body maintain healthy connective tissues in the skin, blood vessels, and bones.
Uses and Benefits of Vitamin C
Most experts agree that vitamin C is one of the safest and very effective nutrients that are essential to everyone’s overall health. It has many benefits that can protect the body against immune system deficiencies, eye disease, prenatal health complications, and skin problems. Here are some of the major uses and benefits of vitamin C:
- Helps in repairing and regenerating tissues
- Aids in the body’s absorption of iron
- Help prevent cancer by fighting free radicals and neutralize the negative effects of preservatives in packaged foods.
- Studies have shown that higher concentration of vitamin C in the blood can lower the risk of stroke.
- Higher vitamin C intake is closely linked to better skin-aging appearance and fewer wrinkles.
- It can help reduce inflammation.
- Lessen the symptoms and duration of common cold.
- It plays a key role in the formation of collagen.
- Has the ability to delay and prevent cataracts.
- It can help improve macular degeneration.
- Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- It can improve your physical performance and muscle strength. Vitamin C can help improve your oxygen intake, especially during exercise. Experts often advise taking vitamin C before a heavy exercise to prevent upper respiratory infections and improve the lungs.
- Vitamin C can help lower the risk of gout. A long term study has found that adults who take 1,000 mg of vitamin C per day have greatly reduced their risk of gout compared to those who did not take any vitamin C.
Range Level Value of Vitamin C
The US Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine recommend that for adult men over 18 years old, the daily intake level of vitamin C is 90 mg. For women over 18 years old, it is recommended to take 75 mg of vitamin C per day. If the woman is pregnant, it is advised to take a higher dosage, which is 85 mg per day. Breastfeeding women need a lot more vitamin C per day, which is 120 mg daily. If you are a smoker or constantly exposed to second-hand smoke, your doctor or nutritionist will advise taking a higher dosage, which is usually an additional 35 mg daily.
Here are the vitamin C range levels for children and teens:
For toddlers 1 to 3 years old, the RDA is 15 mg per day.
For children 4 to 8 years old, the RDA is 25 mg per day.
For children 9 to 13 years old, the RDA is 45 mg per day.
For male teenagers, 14 to 18 years old, the RDA is 75 mg per day.
For female teenagers, 14 to 18 years old, the RDA is 65 mg per day.
There is a maximum limit of vitamin C intake per day. Experts advise not to exceed 2,000 mg of vitamin C for both adult men and women, including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
What is Vitamin C Deficiency?
Vitamin C deficiency or the lack of vitamin C can be described through its symptoms. Usually, the symptoms associated with this type of vitamin deficiency include muscle weakness, fatigue, muscle and joint aches, rashes, and bleeding gums. Although the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are not too alarming and bothersome, it can still turn into a detrimental health problem if it is not treated immediately. Prolonged vitamin C deficiency is a serious matter because it can cause a severe illness called Scurvy. Scurvy is a disease that is a result of extreme vitamin C deficiency and the breakdown of collagen. The initial symptoms of this disease are fatigue and inflammation of the gums. As the condition worsens, the connective tissues in the body become weak and it leads to joint pains, wounds not healing normally, loosening of the teeth, and depression. If it is not treated, it can become fatal. Scurvy is rarely seen today, especially in developed countries, because it can easily be prevented and many food sources are vitamin C fortified. Although extreme cases of vitamin C deficiency are uncommon nowadays, it can still happen to people who have very limited food variety diet.
Vitamin C Deficiency Symptoms
There are a variety of symptoms that may appear when you are vitamin C deficient. Here are the most common symptoms that you should check if you think you are suffering from vitamin C deficiency.
- Mood Swings – you may become more irritable and short tempered when you are low on vitamin C.
- Poor Dental Condition – lacking vitamin C in your system can lead to the poor dental condition. You may suffer from gum problems and periodontal disease if vitamin C deficiency is too severe.
- Fatigue and Weakness – you can easily get tired and experience lack of energy.
- Muscle and Joint Pains – when the pain in the limbs become frequent and chronic, this may be a symptom of vitamin C deficiency.
- Weight Loss – sudden weight loss is a sign of being vitamin C deficient.
- Dry Skin and Hair – poor skin condition and dry and brittle hair mean you are not getting enough nutrients in your body.
- Prone to Infection – you will notice that your wounds do not heal quickly, which means you are at risk of developing an infection.
- Prone to Bruising – you will notice that you can easily get bruised. If there is excessive bruising, then it’s a sure sign that you need a higher intake of vitamin C.
- Weak Immune System – this means you can easily catch colds and flu because your body’s defense system is not strong enough to fight invading bacteria.
Top 10 Vitamin C Foods You Have to Try Before Supplements
Before taking any vitamin C supplements, you should first try including foods that are rich in vitamin C into your daily diet. These foods are not only rich in vitamin C, but they also have added vitamins and minerals that are essential to your body’s overall health. You need this powerful antioxidant to lessen the oxidative stress to your body and lower the risk of developing cancer.
Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and other variety of berries are all packed with vitamin C and other essential nutrients. They are rich in fiber, folate, antioxidants, and phytochemicals that can protect the body against serious diseases like cancer.
Berries are great for dessert and they can also be included in a variety of dishes and snack recipes. Their tangy and sweet taste makes them one of the favorite fruits for so many people. You can create delicious strawberry smoothies, blueberry cake, and ice creams with berries of your choice. One-half cup of strawberries can provide 42 mg of vitamin C, which is 70% of the daily recommended value. Blackberries provide 180 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams of serving.
Orange is one of the most recognized citrus fruits today, and it is also popular because of its high vitamin C content. Oranges are much preferred by many as a juice which can give you from 61 to 93 mg of vitamin C. Just one large orange or 131 grams can provide almost 70 mg of vitamin C, which is 116% of the daily recommended value. Another citrus fruit that is very rich in vitamin C is grapefruit. Eating just half a cup of grapefruit can already give you 50 mg of vitamin C. If you prefer one whole lemon, it can give you about 40 mg of vitamin C. Other citrus fruits that you should also try are pummelo and Clementine.
When it comes to vitamin C foods, bell peppers will always be included in the list. There are so many delicious and popular dishes around the world that has bell pepper as one of the ingredients. Just one cup of raw bell pepper already contains 142 mg of vitamin C, which is well above the daily recommended nutritional value intake for adults. When it’s cooked, it still contains 116 mg of vitamin C per one cup, and it only has 15 calories. If you really want to get a rich dose of vitamin C, you can choose the green bell pepper. It is known to have higher amounts of vitamin C than the red bell peppers. The yellow bell pepper is also rich in vitamin C, with 183 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, which is 306% of the daily recommended value.
Guava is considered as a super fruit because it is not only super-rich in vitamin C, but it also contains so many nutrients such as potassium, folic acid, fiber, and manganese. Guava is a popular fruit in the tropical regions and it has a delicious sweet and sour taste that most people love. A 100 gram serving of this fruit can provide you with 183 mg of vitamin C, which is already 381% of the daily recommended intake value for adults. Even though they are a tropical fruit, you can easily find them in the supermarkets.
Tomatoes are probably one of the reasons why most people today will always get a daily dose of vitamin C in their food. Tomatoes are widely used in so many home-cooked dishes around the world and they have so many uses. They are typically used in food preparations or added to salads and sandwiches. Tomatoes are also the main ingredients of ketchup and the very popular spaghetti. Sun dried tomatoes are known to have the highest amount of vitamin C. Consuming one cup of tomatoes, or 240 grams can provide 54.7 mg of vitamin C, which is 91% of the daily recommended intake value.
Dark Leafy Green Vegetables
These dark green leafy vegetables are spinach, kale, turnip greens, mustard greens, and chard. They are very rich in vitamin C and other essential nutrients that can boost your immunity. Kale has the highest amount of vitamin C, since it can provide up to 130 mg of vitamin C per serving, which is above the full daily requirement. One cup of chopped Kale, or approximately 67 grams, contains about 80 mg of vitamin C. If you are experiencing some of the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, try to include some dark leafy greens in your dishes.
Before taking any vitamin C supplements, you should try including papaya to your daily diet. Just one serving of papaya is enough to complete your daily requirement of vitamin C. One medium-sized papaya contains 180 mg of vitamin C, which is thrice the vitamin C intake you need for the day. Another great reason to eat papaya is its high nutrition value, which includes fiber, potassium, and vitamin A. Papaya is also great for improving your skin health. You can make a papaya smoothie or eat it raw to get your daily dose of vitamin C.
Kiwi is one of the fruits that contain more vitamin C than oranges. It has an appetizing bright green color that is rich in flavonoids and potassium. If you are going to eat 1 cup or 180 grams of sliced kiwi, it will give you 167 mg of vitamin C, which is 278% of your daily requirement value. Always have kiwi and other citrus fruits available in your home to get a daily dose of vitamin C.
If you don’t eat broccoli, you are missing out on its high nutritional value. Just 100 grams per serving of broccoli can provide you with about 89 mg of vitamin C, which is enough to cover your vitamin C requirement for the day. You can eat it raw or cooked, depending on your choice. If you feel that you are going down with flu, try eating more broccoli to give your immune system a much-needed boost. Broccoli is also great for detoxifying your body. Aside from broccoli, other similar vegetables rich in vitamin C that you should definitely include in your daily diet includes cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, red cabbage, and green cauliflower.
Herbs such as thyme, basil, cilantro, chives, and parsley are all rich in vitamin C. It is always a great idea to sprinkle your home cooked meals with these fresh and aromatic herbs. Just one cup of parsley contains over 130 mg of vitamin C. Thyme is also one of the best sources of vitamin C with 160 mg per 100 grams.
The Last Resort: Vitamin C Supplements
Vitamin C supplements are very helpful, especially if your diet does not include these foods mentioned above. However, it is still better if you would treat vitamin supplements as a last resort. It is still healthier to opt for vitamin C foods rather than depending on multi vitamins and supplements. Foods rich in vitamin C are also packed with other essential nutrients, which you need in order to have a balanced diet every day. It is advised to eat at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day to get the optimum dose of vitamin C. There are actually no serious side effects for taking too much vitamin C. Your body is designed to get rid of excess vitamin C through the urine. However, doctors still suggest that you limit your vitamin C intake below 2,000 mg per day to avoid risking diarrhea and stomach upset. There have been studies showing that men who are taking vitamin C supplements are more likely to develop kidney stones compared to others who are not taking any supplements. This study does not apply to the men who get their vitamin C from consuming fruits and vegetables. For those who are choosing to take vitamin C supplements that have a high dosage of 1,000 mg per day, it is recommended to consult your doctor first. If you are eating all these foods but you are still experiencing the symptoms of vitamin C deficiency, then you should definitely try these supplements.