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Boost Your Immune System with Vitamin C
Follow tips from Fresh Thyme to learn which foods are rich in this valuable nutrient and when to take supplements.

What Is Vitamin C and What Does It Do?

Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has antioxidant properties that may help protect cells from harmful free radicals. These unstable molecules may damage or mutate cells, potentially leading to cancer, heart disease, and age-related diseases. There’s no avoiding free radicals. They form when your body converts food into energy, and you’re exposed to them from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and the sun.

Fortunately, antioxidants in the foods you eat may help neutralize free radicals, reducing risks of damage. Whether fresh, frozen, or dried, Fresh Thyme carries fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C and other healthful nutrients; check with your local store for what’s in season. Foods in the tables below are particularly high in vitamin C and are sourced from the USDA FoodData Central.

Fruits High in Vitamin C*

 
Fruit (1 Cup) Vitamin C (mg) Recommended Daily Value (DV)
Guava 378 mg 419% DV
Kiwifruit (slices) 167 mg 185% DV
Orange juice 124 mg 138% DV
Lemon (sections) 112 mg 125% DV
Strawberry (slices) 98 mg 108% DV
Navel orange (sections) 95 mg 108% DV
Grapefruit juice 94 mg 104% DV
Papaya (1-inch pieces) 88 mg 98% DV
Pineapple (chunks) 79 mg 88% DV
Canteloupe (balls) 65 mg 72% DV

Vegetables High in Vitamin C**

 
Vegetable (1 Cup) Vitamin C (mg) Recommended Daily Value (DV)
Sweet yellow pepper (1 large) 341 mg 379% DV
Red bell pepper (strips, cooked) 231 mg 257% DV
Green bell pepper (chopped, sautéed) 204 mg 226% DV
Brussels sprouts (cooked) 97 mg 107% DV
Kohlrabi (slices, cooked) 89 mg 93% DV
Broccoli (chopped) 81 mg 90% DV
Parsley (chopped) 80 mg 89% DV
Snow peas (cooked) 77 mg 85% DV
Cauliflower (cooked) 55 mg 61% DV
Tomatoes (cooked) 55 mg 61% DV

What Are the Benefits of Vitamin C?

Because of its strong antioxidant properties, vitamin C is considered a diverse and valuable nutrient in helping protect against immune system deficiencies and other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, eye health, skin health, and the common cold. While studies have yielded inconsistent results, it’s clear that vitamin C has a strong influence on the human body. Fresh Thyme’s Dietitian’s Corner with Meghan Sedivy, RD, LDN, can help you understand other aspects of nutrition, too.

Cancer

Research shows that people who consume high quantities of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables may have lower risks for certain cancers, such as lung, breast, and colon cancer. However, taking vitamin C supplements alone doesn’t seem to help protect people from getting cancer. Some supplements may interfere with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is important to talk with your doctor before starting any supplement to your daily routine

Heart Disease

People who eat lots of fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C and other nutrients may have lower risks for cardiovascular disease manifestations, such as heart attack, stroke, and elevated blood pressure. The antioxidants in these foods protect against oxidative damage that occurs in the body as a normal result of living, such as eating food or exposure to sunlight. Vitamin C supplements may lower risks for heart disease by lowering high blood pressure. It seems that vitamin C may also improve arterial function.

Eye Health

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is a leading cause of vision loss in older adults. While researchers don’t claim that vitamin C lowers the risk for AMD, studies suggest that vitamin C combined with other nutrients may slow its progression. If you are at risk for this disease, talk to your doctor.

Skin Health

Normal, healthy skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which stimulates the production of collagen, a protein, and protects against UV damage. One study found that women who had higher intakes of vitamin C had finer-looking skin, with fewer wrinkles, dryness, and sagging. Collagen also plays a role in joint and bone health and helps heal wounds.

Cold and Flu

It’s common knowledge to take or consume vitamin C to ward off colds or flu. Yet, according to numerous studies, taking vitamin C after the start of a cold has little effect. Taken preventively, however, the vitamin offers better results. Consuming a daily dose of 200 mg or more may reduce the duration and severity of a cold.

 

How Much Vitamin C Should I Take?

It’s easy for healthy adults to naturally consume the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men—about one large orange or a cup of strawberries or broccoli a day. While many people get all the vitamin C they need from the foods they eat, you may want to try a vitamin C supplement to support your immune health. Look for a supplement that contains 200 mg or more of vitamin C, which at a minimum should help alleviate the effects of a cold as noted above. Talk to your doctor before starting a supplement routine as some supplements may interact with any medications you’re taking.

Supplementing with 200 mg of vitamin C a day is safely below the National Institutes of Health guidelines, which suggests the upper limit for safe consumption of vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day. Taking higher or megadoses of vitamin C supplements may cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or cramps. Fresh Thyme carries a wide variety of vitamin C products from which to choose.

Add Extra Vitamin C to Food

For those who find it difficult to consume lots of vegetables and fruits daily, or for parents who want kids to get more nutrients, there are ways to sneak vitamin C foods into recipes or diet:

  1. Add pureed fruit or grated vegetables into muffin batter, meatloaf, soups, etc.
  2. Stock a supply of cut-up fruit and veggies for snacking.
  3. Add frozen fruit slices to beverages.
  4. Layer dark leafy greens, peppers, tomatoes, and other veggies on sandwiches and in wraps. For convenience, pick up bags of ready-to-serve slaw or mixed greens.
  5. Top pancakes, salads, and other dishes with fresh or frozen berries.
  6. Toss dried fruit on cereal or mix with nuts for easy snacks.
  7. Drink a glass of fresh-squeezed fruit and veggie juice from the Fresh Thyme Juicery as an afternoon treat.

How Can Fresh Thyme Help?

Fresh Thyme carries the freshest produce possible! Our selection of supplements and body care products includes vitamins and other nutrients to round out nutritional goals. Check our flyers to save money on seasonal fruits and veggies and in-store specials.

Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Watch videos from Fresh Thyme’s Registered Dietitian, Meghan Sedivy, RD, LDN, who shares the inside scoop on nutrition. Our website offers informative articles, inspirational stories, and delicious recipes. We are here to help you live your best!