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How can I get More Vitamin C in my Diet?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is vital for tissue growth and important to the immune system, heart, skin, and hair. It is also thought to neutralize free radicals that can weaken the immune system and helps in the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. You can increase the amount in your diet by eating foods like oranges, spinach, and other fruits and vegetables, and by choosing processed foods that have been enriched with it. The body cannot store this vitamin, so it must be consumed every day.

Eating a fortified breakfast cereal and an orange or drinking a glass of orange juice is a good way to start your daily vitamin C intake. Breakfast cereals that have been fortified with this vitamin can be sprinkled on yogurt to make a snack during the day. Fruit or vegetables high in vitamin C are excellent snack ideas and can be prepared and stored in the refrigerator for easy access.

Substituting spinach for lettuce in salads is a great way to add more vitamin C to your diet. Tomatoes, bell peppers, oranges and strawberries are all good sources, and all would make tasty and colorful additions to the spinach salad. Vegetables can be prepared ahead of time to add to stir frys and salads. Fruit salads make a healthy, vitamin-rich dessert when berries, kiwis, citrus fruits, and mangoes are added.

Broccoli and lemons are both good sources of vitamin C and steamed broccoli with lemon juice makes a healthy side dish. Be sure never to overcook vegetables as the vitamin can be cooked out of food. Sweet potatoes, with their bright orange flesh, are another food high in vitamin C and can replace regular white potatoes at an evening meal. Some people enjoy baked sweet potatoes sprinkled with a little cinnamon.

Vitamin C was discovered in 1932, and about two million sailors died in the 1800s before it was found to prevent scurvy. Mega-doses have not been shown to be beneficial, but research has shown that amounts ranging from 40mg to 300mg per day for adults do benefit many people. A medical professional should be consulted before taking any supplements, including vitamin C. Too much may cause stomach pain and diarrhea.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By EdRick — On Aug 19, 2011

@SailorJerry - Tell your wife not to worry. (Or rather, you stop worrying. I've been there, my friend - two kids of my own. You're in for a real roller coaster!)

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Your body can't store it like it can vitamins D and A, for instance. You can really poison yourself by taking too much D (though most people have too little vitamin D these days) or A because it just adds up in your body's fat.

On the other hand, if you take too much vitamin C, you get the runs. Which is bad enough for a pregnant woman, but it's highly unlikely that she would even get that far unless she were taking lots of pure vitamin C supplements. From dietary sources and her regular prenatal, she should be fine.

By SailorJerry — On Aug 19, 2011

@elfi64 - I hadn't heard that about vitamin C and aging! That's awesome. I know that vitamin C is an antioxidant, so supposed to help protect against cancer.

My wife is pregnant right now and being the stereotypical new dad, I'm trying (probably trying way too hard) to help her eat right. That What to Expect diet is hard! It says she needs a whole lot of vitamin C foods (but she's not liking the acid in citrus, so we're getting creative). Is it possible for her to actually get too much vitamin C in her diet?

By elfi64 — On Nov 30, 2008

You want to get plenty of vitamin C in your diet yet for another reason. It slows down the aging process.

One cup of strawberries has about 100mg of vitamin C, while a medium orange or a kiwi have 70mg for example.

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