Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is found in many fresh foods, and although it is commonly associated with citrus fruits, its presence is not exclusive to these fruits.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, so it must be taken regularly throughout the diet as it cannot be stored in the body. In addition to dissolving in water, vitamin C is sensitive to high temperatures, so cooking in water removes its properties.
What Is Vitamin C for?
Vitamin C participates in many metabolic reactions and the biosynthesis of amino acids, hormones, and collagen.
It also helps strengthen the immune system through its antioxidant effects and helps the body prevent the risk of cancer by inhibiting the synthesis of carcinogens. It is also crucial in neutralizing free radicals, which are waste products of cells.
The average daily requirement for vitamin C is 75 mg in adult men and 60 mg in women; however, when pregnant or lactating, this value increases.
Foods that Contain the Most Vitamin C
Vitamin C is found mainly in fresh foods, such as fruits and vegetables. These foods should be eaten raw or slightly cooked in 3-4 days to maximize the benefits of vitamin C.
Foods that are particularly rich in vitamin C include:
- Bell pepper: 100 g of raw bell peppers provides 151 mg of vitamin C;
- Arugula: 100 g of arugula provides 110 mg of vitamin C;
- Kiwi: 100 g of kiwi provides 85 mg of vitamin C;
- Cauliflower: 100 g of raw cauliflower provides 59 mg of vitamin C;
- Spinach: 100 g of raw spinach provides 54 mg of vitamin C;
- Broccoli: 100 g of raw broccoli provides 54 mg of vitamin C;
- Lemon: 100 g of lemon provides 50 mg of vitamin C;
- Orange: 100 g of blond orange provides 49 mg of vitamin C;
- Tangerine: 100 g of tangerine provides 42 mg of vitamin C;
- Tomato: 100 g of raw salad tomatoes provide 21 mg of vitamin C.
Does Vitamin C Help Against Colds and Flu?
We often hear that vitamin C is helpful against colds and flu. In reality, vitamin C has no therapeutic properties and does not help recover from colds or flu.
However, vitamin C can help reduce the duration of a cold or flu because of its antioxidant and immune-stimulating action; therefore, its intake through fresh, seasonal foods can help.