Vitamin C More than Citrus

Citrus fruits-oranges, grapefruits, tangerines-are well-known sources of vitamin C. Yet many other fruits and vegetables are excellent sources, too.

Food Vitamin C (mg)

Red bell pepper (V2 cup) 140

Guava, medium (1) 125

Papaya, medium (V2) 95 Orange juice, from frozen concentrate (3/4 cup) 75

Orange, medium (1) 70

Green bell pepper (V2 cup) 60

Broccoli, boiled (V2 cup) 50

Strawberries (V2 cup) 50

Kohlrabi, boiled (V2 cup) 45

Grapefruit, white (V2) 40

Tomato juice (3/4 cup) 35

Cantaloupe (V2 cup) 30

Mango, medium (V2) 30

Tangerine, medium (1) 25

Cabbage, red, raw (V2 cup) 25 Collard greens, frozen, boiled (V2 cup) 25

Potato, medium, baked with skin (1) 20

Some fruit drinks, bottled waters, and other processed foods are fortified with vitamin C. Check the Nutrition Facts on the label for the amount per serving. And remember, if you rely only on fortified foods as your vitamin C source, you may miss out on other nutrients and compounds present in foods with naturally occurring vitamin C.

If you don't get enough: Eventually, a severe deficiency of vitamin C leads to scurvy, a disease that causes loose teeth, excessive bleeding, and swollen gums. Wounds may not heal properly either. Because vitamin C-rich foods are widely available, scurvy is rare in the United States today.

If you consume an excess amount: Because vitamin C is water-soluble, your body excretes the excess; high levels of vitamin C in urine can mask the results of tests for diabetes. Very large doses may cause kidney stones and/or diarrhea, and for those with iron overload (hemochromatosis), excessive vitamin C (which enhances iron absorption) can make the problem worse. But the effects of taking large amounts for a long time isn't known. A Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin C has been set: 2,000 milligrams daily for adults; 1,800 milligrams daily for teens ages fourteen to eighteen.

How much you need: The RDA for females and males ages fourteen to eighteen is 65 milligrams and 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily, respectively. Adult males need 90 milligrams daily; adult females, 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily for everyday needs (about the amount in 3/4 cup of orange juice). Women need somewhat more during pregnancy (80 to 85 milligrams) and breast-feeding (115 to 120 milligrams).

For people who smoke, the RDA for vitamin C is increased by 35 milligrams daily to help counteract the oxidative damage from nicotine.

Where it's mostly found: Vitamin C mainly comes from plant sources of food. All citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, are good sources. And many other fruits and vegetables, including berries, melons, peppers, many dark green, leafy vegetables, potatoes, and tomatoes supply significant amounts, too. See "Vitamin C: More Than Citrus " on this page for a list of good sources and amounts.

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