Since the body cannot synthesize vitamin C itself, it must absorb it through food. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that cannot be stored in body fat and is easily altered by air, light, and heat. Chemically speaking, vitamin C is L-ascorbic acid and its salts or ascorbates, the most common being sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate.
What does vitamin C do?
Vitamin C plays a critical role in:
Many experts believe the recommended dietary allowances of vitamin C set by health authorities are too low and should be increased to at least 200 mg to ensure optimum health and the prevention of certain diseases.
A number of factors must be taken into account when analyzing individual needs:
Recommended Dietary Allowances for Vitamin C:
|Age||Men (mg/day)||Women (mg/day)|
|0 to 6 months||40mg*||40mg*|
|7 to 12 months||50mg*||50mg*|
|1 to 3 years||15mg||15mg|
|4 to 8 years||25mg||25mg|
|9 to 13 years||45mg||45mg|
|14 to 18 years||75mg||65mg|
|19 and up||90mg||75mg|
|Pregnant women|| ||80 mg (18 years and under)|
|85 mg (19 years and up)|
|Nursing mothers|| ||115 mg (18 years and under)|
|120 mg (19 years and up)|
Source: Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids, 2000.
This data reflects a consensus between Canadian and U.S. health authorities.
*Due to a lack of sufficient scientific evidence, the authorities have established adequate intake (AI) amounts rather than recommended dietary allowances (RDAs).
Vitamin C is found in nearly 90% of colorful raw fruits and vegetables. Generally speaking, the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C can be easily met by consuming at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day. The vitamin C contained in foods can be degraded by air, water, and heat. It is therefore recommended that such foods be consumed raw or cooked briefly in a small amount of water and eaten right away. It is also a good idea to check the best before date of fruit juices and select those with the farthest date.
|Food vitamin C quantities|
|Foods||Portion Size||Vitamin C|
|Guava||125ml (1/2 cup)||188mg|
|Pepper (red), raw or cooked||125ml (1/2 cup)||117-142mg|
|Papaya||153g (1/2 papaya)||94mg|
|Kiwi||1 medium sized||71mg|
|Orange||1 medium sized||70mg|
|Orange juice||125ml (1/2 cup)||48-62mg|
|Pepper (green), raw or cooked||125ml (1/2 cup)||51-60mg|
|Pineapple and grapefruit juice||125ml (1/2 cup)||41-58mg|
|Mango||1 medium sized||57mg|
|Broccoli, raw or cooked||125ml (1/2 cup)||42-54mg|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||4 sprouts (80g)||52mg|
|Strawberries||125ml (1/2 cup)||49mg|
|Beets, cooked||125ml (1/2 cup)||45mg|
|Kohlrabi||125ml (1/2 cup)||45mg|
|Grapefruit, pink or white||1/2 fruit||39mg|
|Peas (green), cooked||125ml (1/2 cup)||38mg|
|Vegetable juice||125ml (1/2 cup)||34mg|
|Carambola (star fruit)||1 medium sized||31mg|
|Cantaloupe||125ml (1/2 cup)||29mg|
|Pineapple||125ml (1/2 cup)||28mg|
Source: Health Canada, Canadian Nutrient File, versions 2001b and 2005; United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference.
Cases of serious vitamin C deficiency are rare in the industrialized world, although such deficiency may appear in individuals whose diet is lacking in fruit and vegetables or in people with lower socioeconomic status. Vitamin C deficiency can also occur in drug addicts and alcoholics.
NOTE: Scurvy is the age-old disease that results from serious vitamin C deficiency.
Signs of vitamin C deficiency:
Long term consumption of high doses of vitamin C supplements should be avoided in the following cases:
Signs of excess vitamin C (over 3,000 mg/day):
Natural health products or vitamin supplements:
Drugs that can lower vitamin C levels in blood:
Speak with your pharmacist if you plan to take vitamin C supplements. Your pharmacist can help you choose the solution that’s best for you based on your health and any drugs you take.
Vitamin C, Ascorbic acid, Calcium ascorbate, Sodium ascorbate