Health Benefits of Vitamin C and Best Natural Sources

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM
Published on

Fresh, organic oranges like those pictured here are a great source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient for a healthy body. Vitamin C is an antioxidant present in many fruits and vegetables.[1] Also known as L-ascorbic acid, vitamin C has a wide variety of uses in the body. It supports normal growth and development and helps the body repair damaged tissue.[2, 3] Vitamin C also assists in the production of collagen, a protein that’s necessary for healthy skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels.[4]

To say that vitamin C is beneficial would be an understatement. It influences iron absorption and helps fight cell-damaging free radicals.[5] A 16-year study found that regular vitamin C supplementation promoted heart health.[6] Additionally, people who consume foods rich in vitamin C or other antioxidants may lower their risk of high blood pressure.[7, 8, 9]

High Doses of Vitamin C

In the 1970s, chemist and Nobel Peace laureate, Linus Pauling, proposed that high doses of vitamin C could help prevent the common cold.[9] Many people swear by Pauling’s claim that vitamin C can boost the immune system naturally, but the research is still inconclusive.

A number of studies have examined whether high-dose vitamin C can provide extraordinary therapeutic results. Results thus far are inconclusive. However, animal studies have found that vitamin C may make traditional therapies more effective.[10]

Natural Dietary Sources of Vitamin C

Many types of food are fortified with vitamins and vitamin C is usually in the mix. However, like all vitamins, it’s best to get your daily intake from organic, natural sources and the best, natural sources of vitamin C are fruits and vegetables. Below are some of the best foods for vitamin C.[11]

Sources of Vitamin C
Food and Serving Size Vitamin C (mg/serving)
Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, Raw, 1/2 cup 95
Orange Juice, 3/4 cup 93
Orange, 1 medium 70
Grapefruit Juice, 3/4 cup 70
Kiwifruit, 1 medium 64
Green Bell Pepper, raw, 1/2 cup 60
Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup 51
Strawberries, fresh, sliced 1/2 cup 49
Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup 48
Grapefruit, ½ medium 39
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup 39
Tomato juice, ¾ cup 33
Cantaloupe, ½ cup 29
Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup 28
Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup 26
1 Lemon Yield, 48g 18.6
Potato, baked, 1 medium 17
Tomato, raw, 1 Medium 17
Spinach, cooked, 1/2 cup 9
Green peas, frozen, cooked, 1/2 cup 8

Daily Intake of Vitamin C

The amount of vitamin C that a person needs may vary with factors like age or whether a person is smoking, pregnant, or even breastfeeding. These are the guidelines provided by the U.S. Office of Dietary Supplements:[12]

Recommended Daily Allowances of Vitamin C
Age Female Male Pregnant female Breastfeeding female
0-6 months 40 mg 40 mg N/A N/A
7-12 months 50 mg 50 mg N/A N/A
1-3 years 15 mg 15 mg N/A N/A
4-8 years 25 mg 25 mg N/A N/A
9-13 years 45 mg 45 mg N/A N/A
14-18 years 65 mg 75 mg 80 mg 115 mg
19+ years 75 mg 90 mg 85 mg 120 mg

Dangers of Vitamin C Deficiency

A lot of people might think “scurvy” is just pirate lingo, but it’s actually a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C. Symptoms of scurvy include fatigue, gum disease, anemia, scaly skin, and easy bruising.[7] Vitamin C deficiency is uncommon in the United States these days but some people remain at risk.[13]

People who get too little variety in their food may not receive adequate nutrition. Normally, when we hear “malnourished” many of us think “starving”, but what it’s more likely to mean is that a person is deficient in specific nutrients and it’s affecting their health. Those who rely on a carnivorous diet might miss their daily quota for vitamin C as meat and dairy don’t contain much of this critical nutrient. Infants fed evaporated or boiled cow’s milk may not get enough vitamin C, especially since cow’s milk is low in vitamin C to begin with. Breast milk and infant formula are both better sources of vitamin C.

Some medical conditions can cause vitamin C deficiency. Digestive tract injuries or inefficiencies, genetic diseases, and other issues can negatively affect not just vitamin C absorption, but nutrient absorption as a whole.[13] Kidney disease and some types of cancer can also cause vitamin C deficiency.[14]

Smoking cigarettes is a bad idea for many reasons. One of the effects of the tissue damage it causes is the body using up vitamin C at a faster rate than normal. As a result, smokers and people exposed to second-hand smoke may need an extra 35 mg of vitamin C a day.[13]

Vitamin C Supplementation

Usually, if you follow a balanced diet with a foundation of organic fruits and vegetables, you’ll get all the vitamin C you need. If you don’t, vitamin C supplementation might be something to consider and discuss with your healthcare provider.

Be aware of the difference between synthetic and natural vitamins. Synthetic supplements are manufactured with unnatural ingredients and chemicals. They are made to mimic natural vitamins but not everyone is convinced of their efficacy. Conversely, natural supplements are made using ingredients drawn straight from their natural sources.

Vitamin C supplements are usually available as ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate, or calcium ascorbate.[14] Synthetic and natural ascorbic acid have similar properties, but I always recommend a natural, plant-based source.[15, 16]

If your diet isn’t providing you with enough vitamin C, you should consider that it’s not providing you with all the other nutrients your body requires, either. In such a case, you may want to skip the vitamin C supplement and look for a solid multivitamin. I recommend IntraMAX® and believe, without a doubt, that it’s the best multivitamin available anywhere. It’s an organic, liquid formula loaded with all the nutrients you need, as well as powerful antioxidant and immune system stimulators. It’s as complete as it gets.

Where do you get your vitamin C? Supplements? A cold glass of orange juice? Let us know in the comments.

References (16)
  1. "Vitamin C." MedlinePlus. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 9 Mar. 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  2. Zeratsky, Katherine, R.D., L.D. "Too Much Vitamin C: Is It Harmful?" MayoClinic.org. Mayo Clinic, 5 Feb. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  3. "Wounds." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland, 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  4. Boyera, N., Galey , I. and Bernard, B.A. (1998), Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 20: 151–158. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171747.x.
  5. Lynch, S. R. and Cook, J. D. (1980), INTERACTION OF VITAMIN C AND IRON. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 355: 32–44. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.1980.tb21325.x.
  6. Osganian, S.k., M.j. Stampfer, E. Rimm, and D. Spiegelman. "Vitamin C and Risk of Coronary Heart Disease in Women." ACC Current Journal Review 12.5 (2003): 27. PubMed. Web.
  7. "Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)." University of Maryland Medical Center. University of Maryland, 16 July 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  8. Juraschek, Stephen P et al. “Effects of Vitamin C Supplementation on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials.” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 95.5 (2012): 1079–1088. PMC. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  9. Ness, A. R., D. Chee, and P. Elliott. "Vitamin C and Blood Pressure–an Overview." J Hum Hypertens Journal of Human Hypertension 11.6 (1997): 343-50. PubMed. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  10. "High-Dose Vitamin C." National Cancer Institute. National Cancer Institute, 11 Dec. 2015. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  11. Bobroff, Linda B., and Isabel Valentin-Oquendo. "Facts About Vitamin C." University of Florida IFAS Extension. University of Florida, n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  12. "Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Health Professionals." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 11 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  13. "Vitamin C Fact Sheet for Consumers." National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 17 Feb. 2016. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  14. Hoffman, Freddie Ann. "Micronutrient Requirements of Cancer Patients." Cancer 55.S1 (1985): 295-300. PubMed. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  15. "Micronutrient Information Center: Vitamin C: Supplemental Forms." Linus Pauling Institute. Oregon State University, 27 Nov. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.
  16. Yung, Susanna, Michael Mayersohn, and J. Barry Robinson. "Ascorbic Acid Absorption in Humans: A Comparison among Several Dosage Forms." Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 71.3 (1982): 282-85. PubMed. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • W J F

    I have been making my own encapsulated vitamin C for about 2 years now. I have COPD and it seems to help a lot to clear mucus and ward off colds and flu. I buy pure pharmaceutical grade Ascorbic Acid and use lecithin to encapsulate it. I prefer sunflower to soy, but lately it’s harder to find in dry form.

    I can take as many grams as I feel necessary without flushing or digestive upset. My normal dose is between 3 and 6 grams per day. That is a lot, but with my condition a cold or respiratory infection could do me in and I know Dr Pauling took much more than that regularly.

    I eat mostly unprocessed whole foods and take other supplements also. I believe the added vitamin C has greatly helped me and if I had to increase the amount my body could tolerate the liposomal C.

  • Mike

    Good article. Though I always feel a sense of stepping around the issue a bit. I’ve noticed this with several nutritional writers. Perhaps it’s Big Brother FDA. Not sure. Clearly getting Vitamin C through foods, organic or otherwise, is better than synthetic vitamins. But sometimes we need more Vitamin C than we do food. Vitamin C from food means we get bioflavnoids that benefit body tissues and not just the isolated ascorbic acid, which has benefits all on its own.

    I liked that you raised intestinal issues. This seems like a complicated area for sports-minded folks who risk injury with every athletic engagement. Not sure if you’re hinting that Vitamin C cures/heals intestinal injuries or not or if you’re saying “Well, it can’t hurt.” The benefits differ from synthetic to synthetic. Just as foods have different concentrations of C and bioflavonoids, effects of synthetics are also different. Ascorbic acid crystals energize me but I worry about intestinal challenges stemming from regular usage. The lypo-spheric C from LivOn seems to penetrate tissue better than straight ascorbic acid.

  • Kirby Walter Jr

    Been drinking 1 medium fresh squeezed lemon every morning 30 minutes before breakfast for 2 years. I have enjoyed many benefits including my skin health and energy levels. Point being why are lemons not included in your list of fruits and vegetables that contain natural Vit. C. Certainly lemons have more Vit.C than potatoes and most other fruits and vegetables you’ve listed. Please reply ….. Thank You!

  • Hi Kirby! We love to hear from our readers and indeed you have a great point. We actually have praised lemon for its many benefits in several articles, one of them “Can Lemon Water Detox Your Body?” which you can check out at:

    http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/can-lemon-water-detox-your-body/.

    We have updated this article to include lemon as a natural source of vitamin C. Thanks for your feedback.

  • Hi Kirby! We love to hear from our readers and indeed you have a great point. We actually have praised lemon for its many benefits in several articles, one of them “Can Lemon Water Detox Your Body?” is available for viewing at:

    http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/can-lemon-water-detox-your-body/

    We have updated this article to include lemon as a natural source of vitamin C. Thanks for your feedback.

  • I would add Camu Camu to this list…also Rosehips

  • Ryan Marco

    Amla (Indian Gooseberry) known in Ayurveda as the Elixir of Life, has 10x the vitamin C of oranges I understand.

  • Rohan Bussell

    ” Ascorbic acid crystals energize me but I worry about intestinal challenges stemming from regular usage.”
    I think the problem would only arise if you were taking ascorbic acid to the point of regular diarrhea, thats undesirable and unhealthy in the long run. Simply having loosened stool is a non issue.
    I do agree with you that at times where you need massive amounts of highly absorbed vitamin c, eg during influenza or dengue, then liposomal is superior as the bowel tolerance issue is mostly avoided.

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