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Healthy Foods that Contain Vitamin C
Posted by Dr. Ben Kim
If you take a look at a variety of vitamin C supplements, you will find that the majority of them contain only ascorbic acid or a compound called ascorbate, which is a less acidic form of acorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is NOT vitamin C. It represents the outer ring that serves as a protective shell for the entire vitamin C complex, much like an orange peel that serves as a protective shell for an orange.
Real vitamin C found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables contains the following components:
- Bioflavonoids (vitamin P)
- Factor K
- Factor J
- Factor P
- Ascorbic Acid
When you take only ascorbic acid found in your synthetic vitamin C tablet or powder, your body must gather all of the other components of the full vitamin C complex from your body's tissues in order to make use of it. In the event that your body does not have adequate reserves of the other components, ascorbic acid itself does not provide the same range of health benefits that the full vitamin C complex does. After circulating through your system, unused ascorbic acid is eliminated through your urine.
What does the full vitamin C-Complex do in your body?
- Helps to form collagen, which is a key structural component of your bones, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels
- Acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your cells against damage and premature aging due to free radicals, toxins, and other harmful substances that make their way into your blood
- Prevents damage to fatty acids, amino acids, and glucose in your blood
- Helps to make norepinephrine, a hormone that is essential to the health of your nervous system
Most nutritional indices list orange juice and grapefruit juice as good sources of vitamin C. While you'll be sure to get some vitamin C from these juices, I recommend that you avoid drinking 100 percent fruit juices most or all of the time. Fruit juices place unhealthy stress on your liver and pancreas. They also raise your blood insulin and sugar levels over the short and long term, which predisposes you to every chronic, degenerative disease that we know of. If you want to have some freshly squeezed orange juice on occasion, try mixing it with romaine lettuce and celery juice, with the orange juice making up no more than 1/3 of the total volume of your juice. The minerals from the greens will help to regulate the pace at which the sugars in the orange juice enter your blood stream.
Here are some healthy, whole food sources of vitamin C:
|Whole Food Sources||Serving||Vitamin C (mg)|
|Sweet red pepper||1/2 cup, raw||141|
|Brussels sprouts||1/2 cup||68|
|Broccoli, cooked||1/2 cup||58|
|Collard greens, cooked||1/2 cup||44|
|Cabbage, cooked||1/2 cup||24|
Signs of Vitamin C Deficiency
- Poor wound healing
- Frequent infections
- Bleeding or bruising easily
- Unexplained pain and swelling of joints
- Hair and tooth loss
|Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) - 1998|
|Life Stage||Age||Males (mg/day)||Females (mg/day)|
|Adults||19-years and older||90||75|
|Smokers||19 years and older||125||110|
|Pregnancy||18 years and younger||-||80|
|Pregnancy||19 years and older||-||85|
|Breastfeeding||18 years and younger||-||115|
|Breastfeeding||19 years and older||-||120|
When you obtain natural vitamin C from whole foods, there is virtually no potential for toxicity or undesirable reactions. Large doses of synthetic vitamin C can cause you to experience uncomfortable GI symptoms like bloating, stomach pain, and diarrhea. I recommend obtaining vitamin C from whole foods or whole food supplements only. For the reasons explained in our article on synthetic vs. natural vitamins, I recommend that you avoid synthetic forms of vitamin C completely.
Note: If you are looking for an all-natural source of the full vitamin C complex, I recommend acerola cherry powder.
Go To Nutrient Index
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