Foods High in Vitamin C
Because vitamin C is water soluble, and the body excretes any excess vitamin C consumed, it must be replenished every day; luckily there are many nutritious, delicious, and inexpensive foods high in vitamin C.
Citrus Fruits and Scurvy
From 1500 to 1800, scurvy, or severe vitamin C deficiency, was responsible for the deaths of as many as two million sailors. While as little as 10 mg of vitamin C per day, or less than one seventh of the amount contained in a single medium orange, prevents scurvy, sailors were particularly vulnerable to severe vitamin C deficiency because they had little or no access to fresh fruits and vegetables while on extended voyages. Scottish physicist James Lind is famous for noticing that Danish sailors, who were often provided with cabbage on long voyages, suffered the symptoms of scurvy less frequently than did their British counterparts. In 1753 he made a recommendation to the British navy that they start supplying their crews with fresh fruits and vegetables to prevent scurvy. Ultimately, the British took advantage of the lime trees growing in the British Caribbean and began providing British sailors with lime juice to ward off scurvy, earning them the nickname "Limeys." Citrus fruits continue to be one of the best sources of vitamin C.
Other Food Sources of Vitamin C
Berries, guava, kiwis, sweet red and green peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, and potatoes are also good sources of vitamin C.
Supplemental Vitamin C
There are many different forms of supplemental vitamin C on the market today, and very little evidence that any one kind is any better for you than any other kind. Supplemental vitamin C is chemically identical to the vitamin C found in foods, and there is no indication that natural vitamin C is anymore biologically active or available.
When to Indulge a Little More
Experts recommend at least an extra 35 mg of vitamin C per day for smokers. Oral contraceptives that contain estrogen can reduce vitamin C levels in the body, and aspirin can increase urinary excretion of vitamin C if used frequently, leading to a 50 percent reduction in vitamin C levels in white blood cells. Ask your physician if you should take supplemental vitamin C if you are on oral contraceptive or use aspirin regularly.