Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many foods, especially fruits and vegetables.
It is well known for being a powerful antioxidant, as well as for having positive effects on skin health and immune function.
It is also vital for the synthesis of collagen, connective tissue, bones, teeth, and your small blood vessels.
The human body cannot produce or store vitamin C. Therefore, it is essential to consume it regularly in sufficient quantities.
The current daily value (DV) for vitamin C is 90 mg.
Symptoms of deficiency include bleeding gums, frequent bruising and infection, poor wound healing, anemia, and scurvy.
Here are the top 15 foods that are rich in vitamin C.
1. Kakadu plums
The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is an Australian superfood that contains 100 times more vitamin C than oranges.
It has the highest known concentration of vitamin C, up to 5,300 mg per 100 grams. Just one plum contains 481 mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the DV.
It is also rich in potassium, vitamin E, and the antioxidant lutein, which can benefit eye health.
2. Acerola Cherries
Just a half cup (49 grams) of red acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata) provides 822 mg of vitamin C, or 913% of the DV.
Animal studies using acerola extract have shown that it may have cancer-fighting properties, help prevent skin damage from UVB rays, and even decrease DNA damage caused by poor diet.
Despite these promising results, there are no human studies on the effects of consuming acerola cherry.
Rosehip is a small, sweet, and acidic fruit of the rose plant. It is loaded with vitamin C.
About six rose hips provide 119 mg of vitamin C, or 132% of the DV.
Vitamin C is necessary for the synthesis of collagen, which supports the integrity of the skin as it ages.
Studies have found that vitamin C reduces sun damage to the skin, decreasing wrinkles, dryness, and discoloration and improving its overall appearance. Vitamin C also helps with wound healing and inflammatory skin conditions such as dermatitis.
One green chili contains 109 mg of vitamin C, or 121% of the DV vaccine. In comparison, a red chili provides 65 mg, or 72% of the DV (12, 13).
Also, chili peppers are rich in capsaicin, the compound responsible for their spicy flavor. Capsaicin can also reduce pain and inflammation.
There is also evidence that about one tablespoon (10 grams) of red chili powder can help increase fat burning.
This tropical fruit with pink flesh is native to Mexico and South America.
A single guava contains 126 mg of vitamin C, or 140% of the DV. It is particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene.
A six-week study of 45 young, healthy people found that eating 400 grams of peeled guava per day, or about 7 pieces of this fruit, significantly lowered their blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
6. Sweet Yellow Peppers
The vitamin C content of sweet or sweet peppers increases as they ripen.
Just half a cup (75 grams) of yellow bell peppers provides 137 mg of vitamin C, or 152% of the DV, which is twice the amount found in green bell peppers.
Getting enough vitamin C is important for the health of your eye and can help protect against cataract progression.
A study of more than 300 women found that those with the highest intakes of vitamin C had a 33% lower risk of cataract progression, compared to those with the lowest intakes.
7. Black currants
A half cup (56 grams) of black currants (Ribes nigrum) contains 101 mg of vitamin C, or 112% of the maximum dose.
Antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins give them their dark, rich color.
Studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins can reduce oxidative damage associated with chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Gram for gram, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges and one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C of all culinary herbs.
One ounce (28 grams) of fresh thyme provides 45 mg of vitamin C, which is 50% of the DV.
Even just by sprinkling 1–2 tablespoons (3–6 grams) of fresh thyme on your food, add 3.5–7 mg of vitamin C to your diet, which can strengthen your immunity and help fight infection.
While thyme is a popular remedy for sore throats and respiratory conditions, it is also rich in vitamin C, which helps improve immune health, produce antibodies, destroy viruses and bacteria, and kill infected cells.
Two tablespoons (8 grams) of fresh parsley contain 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended DV.
Along with other green leafy vegetables, parsley is an important source of plant-based non-heme iron.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This helps prevent and treat iron deficiency anemia.
A two-month study gave people on a vegetarian diet 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day with their meals. By the end of the study, their iron levels had increased by 17%, hemoglobin by 8%, and ferritin, which is the stored form of iron, by 12%.
One cup of raw chopped spinach provides 195 mg of vitamin C, or 217% of the DV.
Even though cooking heat reduces the vitamin C content of foods, one cup of cooked spinach leaves still provides 117 mg of vitamin C, or 130% of the DV.
As with many dark green leafy vegetables, spinach is also rich in vitamin A, potassium, calcium, manganese, fiber, and folate.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable.
One cup of chopped kale provides 80 mg of vitamin C, or 89% of the DV. It also supplies high amounts of vitamin K and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
One cup of cooked cabbage provides 53 mg, or 59% of the DV for vitamin C.
While cooking this vegetable reduces its vitamin C content, a study found that boiling, frying or steaming the leafy greens helps release more antioxidants. These powerful antioxidants can help reduce chronic inflammatory diseases.
One medium kiwi contains 71 mg of vitamin C, or 79% of the DV.
Studies have shown that kiwi rich in vitamin C can help reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol, and enhance immunity.
A study of 30 healthy people ages 20 to 51 found that eating 2–3 kiwis every day for 28 days reduced the adherence of platelets in the blood by 18% and decreased triglycerides by 15%. This can reduce the risk of blood clots and strokes.
Another study in 14 men with vitamin C deficiency found that eating two kiwis a day for four weeks increased white blood cell activity by 20%. Blood levels of vitamin C returned to normal after just one week, having increased by 304%.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. A half cup of cooked broccoli provides 51 mg of vitamin C, or 57% of the maximum dose.
Numerous observational studies have shown a possible association between eating a large amount of cruciferous vegetables rich in vitamin C and reducing oxidative stress, improving immunity, and lowering the risk of cancer and heart disease.
A randomized study gave 27 young men who were heavy smokers a 250-gram serving of steamed broccoli that contained 146 mg of vitamin C every day. After ten days, their levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein had decreased by 48%.
14. Brussels sprouts
A half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 49 mg, or 54% of the DV for vitamin C.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, manganese, and potassium.
Both vitamins C and K are important for the health of your bones. In particular, vitamin C helps the formation of collagen, which is the fibrous part of bones.
A large review from 2018 found that a high dietary intake of vitamin C was associated with a 26% reduction in the risk of hip fractures and a 33% reduction in the risk of osteoporosis.
Lemons were given to sailors during the 18th century to prevent scurvy. A whole raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83 mg of vitamin C, or 92% of the DV.
The vitamin C in lemon juice also acts as an antioxidant.
When fruits and vegetables are cut, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. This causes oxidation and turns the food brown. The application of lemon juice to the exposed surfaces acts as a barrier, preventing the browning process.
Vitamin C is vital to the health of your immune system, connective tissue, heart, and blood vessels, among many other important functions.
Not getting enough of this vitamin can have negative effects on your health.
While citrus fruits may be the most famous source of vitamin C, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in this vitamin and may even exceed the amounts found in citrus fruits.
By eating some of the foods suggested above each day, your needs should be met.
A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step towards good health and disease prevention.