Citrus fruits, like oranges, aren't the only vitamin C foods worth adding to your diet. In fact, there are plenty of everyday fruits and veggies that contain far more vitamin C than those sweet, round orbs – and chances are, many of them are staples in your weekly shopping basket already.
This water-soluble vitamin can't be stored in your body, so getting enough through your diet is crucial for your health. Not only is vitamin C a potent antioxidant – which means it protects your cells from the damage caused by free radicals – but it also helps your body make collagen, absorb iron, and prop up your immune system defences.
To help you ensure you're hitting your quota, we assembled a fine selection of vitamin C foods to top up your stocks – and asked Sophie Medlin, registered dietitian and owner at City Dietitians, to talk us through the benefits of choosing dietary sources over supplements:
Vitamin C foods: easy ways to get your daily dose
Thanks to the sheer abundance of readily-available vitamin C foods, it's never been easier to hit your daily recommended intake through your diet – currently 45mg per day for adults aged 19 and older, according to the World Health Organisation. Aside from warding off scurvy, getting enough vitamin C brings a wealth of health benefits.
'Vitamin C is essential for good immune function,' says Medlin. 'It also plays an important role in chemical signalling to the brain and tissue repair. It has excellent antioxidant properties, which means that it helps to control some of the consequences of tissue damage and unhealthy lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking.'
Add the following vitamin C foods to your diet every day to bolster your overall health:
Each 100g portion of this exotic fruit contains 60.9mg of vitamin C. It's also an excellent source of vitamin A, an antioxidant vitamin that's vital for eye health.
Containing a bumper 228.3mg of vitamin C in each 100g portion, it's little wonder that guava is sometimes called a 'super fruit'. It's also a rich source of gut-healthy soluble fibre.
3. Chili pepper
A single chili pepper contains 6.6mg of vitamin C. Regularly eating these fiery fruits can lengthen your life, slashing your risk of death from all causes by 25 per cent, studies show.
This humble salad filler contains a respectable 13.7mg of vitamin C in every 100g portion, plus lashings of lycopene, a carotenoid antioxidant with proven cancer-fighting abilities.
While broccoli contains 89.2mg of vitamin C per 100g, cooking can lessen the amount, so it's always best to steam or microwave vegetables for maximum nutritional benefits.
6. Mustard greens
Belonging to the same vegetable family as Brussels sprouts, mustard greens contain a similar portion of vitamin C – 70mg per 100g portion.
8. Red, yellow and green peppers
Surprisingly, each variety has a slightly different vitamin C content. Your average yellow pepper has 183.5mg, while the same-sized red pepper packs 153.2mg, and a green pepper contains just 96.5mg.
Along with 58.8mg of vitamin C per 100g, these sweet, tangy summer fruits contain highly healthful anthocyanins – the flavonoid antioxidants responsible for their deep red colour.
This nutritious leafy green contains 93.4mg of vitamin C per 100g portion, along with bucketloads of lutein – another carotenoid antioxidant with proven anti-cancer properties.
Your average grapefruit contains 96.1mg of vitamin C – more than double your daily needs – and it's a rich source of the insoluble fibre pectin, which boosts your digestive health.
12. Brussels sprouts
These little green veggies contain 85mg of vitamin C per 100g portion. They're also loaded with choline, an essential nutrient that helps to ward off dementia, studies show.
A single slice of pineapple contains 26.8mg of vitamin C, so you only need to munch a few rings to meet your daily quota. It's a rich source of an enzyme called bromelain, which has anti-inflammatory properties.
Believe it or not, the humble tattie is a rich source of vitamin C. It contains around 20.5mg per medium potato, along with more than one third of your daily iron requirements.
Each 100g portion of peas contains 40mg of vitamin C, just shy of your daily recommendation, plus plenty of fibre and a surprising amount of protein (5.4 g).
16. Kiwi fruit
Munch just one kiwi and you'll have hit your daily needs and then some, with 56mg in each furry little fruit. Impressively, the seeds are filled with omega-3 fatty acids.
There's 76.4mg of vitamin C locked into every mango, along with one quarter of your daily folate requirements, which helps your body make red blood cells. Unfortunately, we can't make cutting it any easier.
One medium head of cauliflower contains 283.4mg of vitamin C. It's also rich in sulforaphane, a natural plant compound that fights inflammation.
19. Honeydew melon
Each 100g piece of refreshing honeydew melon contains 18mg of vitamin C, plus a potent dose of electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, sodium and calcium.
Another surprising source of vitamin C, cabbage contains 36.6mg per 100g. You'll also benefit from gut-friendly insoluble fibre and powerful polyphenol antioxidants.
These little fruits are filled to the brim with vitamin C, with one lychee containing 7.2mg.
22. Bean sprouts
Crunchy bean sprouts provide more than just texture, containing 13.2mg of vitamin C per 100g. They're also a source of resistant starch, which nourishing your colon cells for a healthy bowel.
Should you take vitamin C supplements?
Generally, vitamin C supplements are surplus to requirements, because – as you've seen from this article – it's easy to get all the vitamin C your body needs by eating a varied, balanced diet. 'Most fruit and vegetables contain plenty of vitamin C, so as long as you're getting your 5-a-day, you don't need to supplement,' says Medlin.
With that said, if you're not eating much fruit and veg, 'or if you're coming down with a cold, you may want to consider a supplement,' she says. 'There is also evidence to show that smokers have lower vitamin C levels in their blood than non-smokers, so if you smoke you may wish to take a supplement more regularly.'
If you do decide to go down the supplement route for any reason, it's important not to go overboard. In high doses, vitamin C supplements cause side effects and can be harmful to your health. 'Too much vitamin C causes stomach upsets, headaches, sleeping problems and flushing of the skin,' says Medlin. 'For this reason, high doses are not recommended.'
Taking a daily dose of 1,000mg or less is unlikely to cause any issues, she says, adding that between 250-500mg is optimum. Avoid high-strength tablets, for the sake of your health and your wallet. 'You'll lose most of it in your urine – and you cause yourself problems if you take too much,' Medlin says. 'The best source is always fruit and veg!'
Last updated: 20-05-2021
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