April 4th celebrates National Vitamin C Day, but we think that this essential nutrient deserves to be celebrated every single day. What’s our reasoning behind this? Well, since you asked kindly, vitamin C is responsible for protecting the skin from oxidative damage, reducing blood pressure, enhancing immune response, and reducing the risk of gout. If that wasn’t enough to convince you of vitamin C’s importance, consider that it helps to prevent cellular damage that is caused by constant exposure to environmental pollutants and toxins!
The History Of Vitamin C
In the 19th century, Sir Thomas Barlow, a British physician, was one of the first people to describe scurvy and how it could be prevented with adequate vitamin C intake. Scurvy existed for more than a century before his discovery, and it killed many sailors that embarked on long sea voyages. Thanks to Sir Thomas Barlow, sailors were sent to sea with large amounts of citrus fruits to maintain optimal vitamin C intake and avoid scurvy.
What Is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascrobic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in various fruits and vegetables and is available in the form of dietary supplements. It has been heavily studied for its antioxidant activity, and for the effects it has on collagen synthesis, immune function, bone health, and more. Because the human body cannot synthesize vitamin C on its own, it is each person’s responsibility to obtain this essential nutrient from dietary sources. While many foods contain vitamin C, our top five recommendations are detailed below.
The guava is a tropical fruit that is native to both South America and Mexico. One little guava contains 126 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, which translates to 140% of the recommended daily intake (RDI). A six-week study, which involved 45 healthy young people, found that consuming 400 grams of peeled guava per day (around seven pieces of this fruit) significantly lowered cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
This is an Australian superfood that contains 100 times more vitamin C than oranges. It actually has one of the highest known concentrations of vitamin C, amounting to 5,300mg per 100 grams. A single kakadu plum contains 481mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the RDI for vitamin C. These plums also contain vitamin E, potassium, and lutein, which is an antioxidant that supports eye health.
American farmers used to refer to blackcurrants as “the forbidden fruit,” solely for the fact that they thought these tart berries spread fungus that killed pine trees. The United States banned blackcurrants for a long time and many Americans missed out on the benefits because of that. One-half cup of blackcurrants contains 101mg of vitamin C, or 112% of the RDI. Blackcurrants also contain anthocyanins, which may help reduce oxidative damage that is associated with chronic illnesses and neurodegenerative diseases.
This variety of spinach packs 195mg of vitamin C per cup, or 217% of the RDI. The best way to absorb the vitamin C from mustard spinach is by eating it raw because the heat can lower the vitamin C content, and that applies to all foods. That being said, one cup of cooked mustard spinach still offers 117mg of vitamin C, or 130% of the RDI.
Not only do papayas contain bromelain, a digestive enzyme that breaks down protein chains, but they are also rich in vitamin C. One cup of fresh papaya contains 87mg of vitamin C, or 97% of the RDI. One study monitored 20 people with mild Alzheimer’s disease and gave them concentrated papaya extract for six months. The results revealed a 40% reduction in oxidative stress and decreased inflammation levels.
Vitamin C is readily available in many fruits and vegetables, but the ones highlighted in this article have some of the highest vitamin C content. Other sources of vitamin C include:
- Citrus fruits (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit)
- Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries)
- Rose hips
- Brussels Sprouts
- Bell pepper
- Chili peppers