Ascorbic acid, usually called vitamin C, is water-soluble, which means your body can't store it. Food is the best source of ascorbic acid, which your body needs for tissue growth and wound healing, iron absorption and maintaining bones, teeth and capillaries. Vitamin C helps form collagen, a protein essential to developing skin, blood vessels, muscle, cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can also impede damage by free radicals, harmful molecules that occur in the body. Choosing food that supplies your body with vitamin C is crucial to maintaining good health.
Eating vitamin C-rich foods is the best way to ensure sufficient absorption of this vitamin, and overall, citrus fruit is the optimal food source. A medium orange contains 60 milligrams of vitamin C, almost a full day’s requirement of this vitamin for adult women and men. Grapefruit, especially the red or pink variety, is also high in ascorbic acid, with half a grapefruit supplying half a day’s worth of vitamin C.
Tropical fruits, especially guava and papaya, are extremely rich in vitamin C, with one guava containing twice the amount of vitamin C recommended for adults. Other fruits high in vitamin C include currants, pineapple, kiwi fruit, mangoes, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries.
Because ascorbic acid is sensitive to heat, light and air, your body will get more vitamin C if you choose fresh and raw fruits. Some canned fruits, such as canned tomatoes, use ascorbic acid as a preservative and supply some vitamin C.
People who eat antioxidant-rich foods, including vegetables that contain vitamin C, are less likely to have high blood pressure. You will get more vitamin C if you eat vegetables that are raw or lightly cooked, so, if you must cook them, briefly steam, boil or simmer foods in a small amount of water. Some vegetables are high in ascorbic acid, especially leafy green and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage greens, spinach, winter squash, zucchini and asparagus. Red bell peppers are very rich in vitamin C, with a 1/2 cup providing an adult’s entire daily requirement. Potatoes are also a good source of vitamin C as long as you cook them in their skin after you wash the dirt off.
Vitamin C dissolves in water, and what's left over exits your body through urine. You must provide your body with a continuous supply of ascorbic acid by consuming vitamin C-rich foods and beverages. Drinking fresh juices containing high ascorbic acid content, including orange, grapefruit, tangerine and tomato juice, is an easy way to obtain healthy amounts of vitamin C. If fresh or fresh-frozen juice is not available, refrigerate prepared juices immediately and drink them within three days, before the ascorbic acid degrades.
Fortified Foods and Beverages
Vitamin C is added to some types of juices that are not natural sources of vitamin C, such as grape and apple juice. One serving of fortified juice can provide half of your daily recommended requirement for vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is also added to frozen peaches to slow down discoloration. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with vitamin C. These fortified cereals often contain at least 25 percent of the U.S. recommended adequate intake for vitamin C. Because vitamin amounts in cereals vary, check box labels to ascertain the amount of ascorbic acid for each cereal you eat or serve to your children.
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