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10 Fruits High in Vitamin C—and How They Benefit Your Body – AOL

6 minutes, 28 seconds Read

April 11, 2024 at 5:39 PM

Three cheers for this powerful micronutrient!

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Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s often associated with boosted immunity. But this popular micronutrient positively influences our health in many more ways. And if you’re a fruit lover, you’re in luck, as some of the best sources of vitamin C are the most popular fruits. Read on to learn all about how vitamin C benefits our health, as well as some of the best sources—including plenty of delicious fruits.

Related: The 12 Healthiest Fruits To Eat, According to the Pros

How Does Vitamin C Benefit the Body?

Vitamin C is most known for its antioxidant properties, which means it supports the immune system through reducing inflammation and fighting off of free radicals. “Free radicals are unstable molecules naturally created by the body and from the environment—such as pollutants, cigarette smoke, pesticides, and UV radiation,” says Jessica G. Anderson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, ACSM EP-C, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Top Nutrition Coaching. “Vitamin C is also required for collagen synthesis, L-carnitine (a chemical needed for metabolism) synthesis, formation of certain neurotransmitters, and protein metabolism, as well as formation and repair of connective tissue, muscle, bone and blood vessels,” Anderson continues.

These effects are so pronounced that vitamin C intake is associated with decreased risk for cancer, autoimmune diseases, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases (like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s), the common cold, and premature aging of the skin, Anderson explains.

How Much Vitamin C Do We Need Per Day?

So, how much vitamin C should we be aiming for on a daily basis to reap these impressive benefits? Here are the recommended daily amounts (RDAs) for adults over the age of 19, per the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Men: 90 milligrams (mg) per day

  • Women: 75 mg per day

  • Pregnant Women: 85 mg per day

  • Lactating Women: 120 mg per day

However, it’s not uncommon to see excessive amounts of vitamin C in supplements—sometimes upwards of 200 percent of the RDA in a single dose. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin C for all adults is 2,000 mg. If we consistently consume more than this amount, it can be detrimental to our health. “Vitamin C can become a ‘pro-oxidant,’ where it can contribute to further cell damage and increase the risk for the negative health outcomes it’s known to be beneficial against (in recommended amounts),” says Anderson.

Common symptoms of excessive vitamin C intake include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Considering this, you ideally want to focus on whole food sources of this antioxidant before turning to supplements. Though, it’s important to be cognizant of any vitamin C that may be in the supplements you already take, too.

10 Fruits High in Vitamin C

Speaking of whole food sources, many fruits are super high in this water-soluble vitamin. Here are the top 10 fruits rich in vitamin C:

Oranges

It may not come as a shock to see oranges high on this list, as they often go hand-in-hand with vitamin C. In one medium orange, you’ll find 70 mg of the vitamin. This amount should be similar across all orange varieties available at the grocery store.

Guava

Though sometimes harder to find at the market, guava is a super source of immune-boosting vitamin C. In fact, one cup contains a whopping 376 mg! If you can’t find guava at your grocery store, guava juice will offer plenty of this micronutrient as well (check out the nutrition facts panel for the exact amount).

Related: The 30 Healthiest Foods to Eat Every Day

Kiwi

Kiwifruit, also known as kiwi, is not only juicy and tartly delicious, but super nutritious, containing fiber and a handful of micronutrients—including vitamin C. One medium kiwi offers an impressive 64 mg of the vitamin.

Strawberries

Strawberry season is right around the corner. Even if you aren’t able to snag some local strawberries, they’re found in pretty much every grocery store year-round—either fresh or frozen (though they may not taste as sweet). In just half a cup you’ll find 49 mg of vitamin C.

Papaya

This tropical fruit is another one that can be tricky to locate, but papaya is a fantastic source of vitamin C, nonetheless. There’s 88 mg in one cup of cut papaya, and equally high amounts of the vitamin in many 100 percent fruit juices containing it.

Cantaloupe

Few things are as wonderful as cantaloupe slices during peak harvest season. But this sweet, juicy melon is not only super yummy, it’s loaded with nutrients—like vitamin C. One cup contains 58 mg, helping you to meet your daily requirements.

Grapefruit

Though grapefruit’s bitter taste can be off-putting for some, many start every morning with this large citrus fruit. Half of a medium grapefruit boasts 39 mg of vitamin C whereas, ¾ cup grapefruit juice offers a notable 70 mg.

Apples

Few fruits are as readily available as the humble apple, making it an excellent grab when you need to boost your fiber (and vitamin C) intake for the day. Regardless of the type, one medium apple contains a modest (but still impactful) eight mg of vitamin C.

Pineapple

As one of the most affordable tropical fruits at the grocery store, pineapple is full of nutrients, including fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, and calcium. It’s also a super source of vitamin C, with 79 mg in one cup.

Cherries

A snack time favorite, cherries offer the perfect pop of sweetness to satisfy you until your next meal. It’s just an added bonus that they’re packed with nutrition, including vitamin C. In one cup of pitted sour cherries, you’ll find 15 mg of the vitamin. But acerola cherries are a stupendous source, with upwards of 1,000 mg in the same serving.

Other Foods High in Vitamin C

Other great fruit sources of vitamin C include lemons, limes, lychees, persimmons, and black currants. But fruits aren’t the only food group rich in the micronutrient. Bell peppers, broccoli, snow peas, kale, chili peppers, banana peppers, kohlrabi, parsley, Brussel sprouts, rosehips, and tomatoes (technically a fruit) are also fabulous places to find vitamin C.

Related: 9 Healthiest Vegetables to Eat, According to RDs

Adding Vitamin C-Rich Foods Into Your Daily Routine

There are so many ways to include these vitamin C foods into your daily routine. Fruit sources can be added to smoothies, oatmeal, overnight oats, chia pudding, baked goods, homemade jams, pancakes, and salads. Meanwhile, veggie sources can be included in pastas, rice dishes, egg recipes, casseroles, salads, slaws, soups, grain bowls, and so much more.

If you aim for at least two to three servings of the top sources we’ve listed here, you should be able to pretty easily achieve your daily vitamin C needs without supplementation.

The Bottom Line

When it comes down to it, vitamin C is an undoubtedly healthy micronutrient, benefiting the body from so many different angles. That said, it’s important to focus on whole food sources and be cautious of supplements with excessive levels of the vitamin to ensure you’re not overdoing it (which is associated with certain health risks). Thankfully, there are so many yummy vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies, helping you to meet your needs easily and deliciously.

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