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While most people think of citrus fruits as the best source of vitamin C, vegetables also contain high levels, especially peppers, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin C is destroyed by exposure to air, so eating fresh foods as quickly as possible is best. Although a salad from a salad bar is a healthy lunch choice, the vitamin C content of the fruits and vegetables is only a fraction of what it would be if the salad were made fresh. For example, freshly sliced cucumbers, if left standing, lose between 41 and 49 percent of their vitamin C content within the first three hours. A sliced cantaloupe, left uncovered in the refrigerator, loses 35 percent of its vitamin C content in less than twenty-four hours.
Women need to consume 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily, and men need to consume 90 milligrams daily to meet their needs. Smoking accelerates the breakdown and elimination of vitamin C from the body, so smokers need to consume an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C every day to make up for these losses.
Americans meet about 90 percent of their vitamin C needs by consuming fruits and vegetables, with orange and/or grapefruit juice being the most popular source in the diet. One serving of either juice will just about meet an adult’s daily needs. Tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, broccoli, oranges, and cantaloupe are also excellent sources:
- Orange, 1 medium = 70 milligrams
- Kiwi, 1 = 71 milligrams
- Strawberries, 1 cup = 89 milligrams
- Cantaloupe, 1 cup = 59 milligrams
- Red pepper, 1 raw = 226 milligrams
- Broccoli, boiled, 1 cup = 101 milligrams
- Veggie juice, low sodium, 1 cup = 67 milligrams
Many fruits and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. Among fruits, choose:
- citrus fruits such as orange and grapefruit
- strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries
- kiwi fruit
Among vegetables, good sources of vitamin C include:
- green and red peppers
- leafy greens like spinach, cabbage and turnip greens
- winter squash
- brussels sprouts
- sweet and white potatoes
Non-starchy fruits and vegetables are a great addition to a weight-loss diet. Try to eat whole fruit, rather than drinking fruit juice, and when preparing vegetables, boil briefly, steam, microwave, bake or broil rather than fry or deep-fry.
Here are selected food sources of vitamin C from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference:
- Red sweet pepper, raw, 1/2 cup
- Kiwi fruit, 1 medium
- Orange, 1 medium
- Green sweet pepper, raw, 1/2 cup
- Grapefruit juice, 3/4 cup
- Vegetable juice cocktail, 3/4 cup
- Strawberries, 1/2 cup
Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.