Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. However, it’s also crucial for many other important biological functions. A deficiency in vitamin C causes scurvy, leaves the body vulnerable to infections, and is an underlying factor in inflammation that can lead to chronic illness. 

Several Key Functions That Require Vitamin C:

  • the synthesis of collagen, an essential component of connective tissue and important to wound healing
  • the production of certain neurotransmitters (brain chemicals)
  • antioxidant support throughout the body
  • facilitating the absorption of calcium into the bones

Getting Enough Vitamin C

Because our body cannot make vitamin C, it must come from the foods we eat every day. However, many of us are not eating sufficient fruits and vegetables to maintain the levels that optimally support antioxidant activity and immune function. Also, being water-soluble means that vitamin C is quickly excreted from the body. It’s important to take a daily vitamin C supplement to ensure the body has the protection it needs.

The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is around 90 mg per day. Some research indicates a daily intake of 100-200 mg for better protection against new infections, such as colds and respiratory tract illnesses. Many experts recommend supplementing with up to 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily. However, when you are already feeling ill, it’s best to consult with a holistic physician to determine the right dose and form (liquid, capsule, etc.) for your needs. Even if you are taking a supplement, you still want to eat a variety of organic fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C, such as:

  • acerola cherries 
  • cantaloupe
  • black currant
  • lychee
  • kiwi
  • papaya
  • pineapple
  • strawberries
  • red and yellow bell peppers 
  • broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • cauliflower

To get the most nutrients from your fruits and vegetables, eat them as soon as possible after shopping. Consider buying local to ensure freshness, as nutrients decrease with time on the shelf. When cooking, you can limit nutrient loss by steaming or cooking on low heat for short periods of time.

Resources:
NIH.  “Vitamin C Health Information Sheet for Professionals.”

Carr, A.C. & Maggini, S. “Vitamin C and Immune Function,” Nutrients  (3 Nov 2017)9: 1211; doi:10.3390/

“The Link Between Vitamin C and Optimal Immunity.” Life Extension (Nov 2015).

“Effects of vitamin C on health: A review of Evidence.” Frontiers in Bioscience (June 2013) 18(3):1017-29. DOI: 10.2741/4160.

Food Sources of Vitamin C