Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
It’s well known for being a potent antioxidant, as well as having positive effects on skin health and immune function.
It’s also vital for collagen synthesis, connective tissue, bones, teeth and your small blood vessels.
The human body cannot produce or store vitamin C. Therefore, it’s essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts.
The current daily value (DV) for vitamin C is 90 mg.
Deficiency symptoms include bleeding gums, frequent bruising and infections, poor wound healing, anemia and scurvy.
Here are the top 20 foods that are high in vitamin C.
1. Kakadu Plums
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The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is an Australian native superfood containing 100 times more vitamin C than oranges.
It has the highest known concentration of vitamin C, containing up to 5,300 mg per 100 grams. Just one plum packs 481 mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the DV (3).
It’s also rich in potassium, vitamin E and the antioxidant lutein, which may benefit eye heath
2. Acerola Cherries
Just one-half cup (49 grams) of red acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata) delivers 822 mg of vitamin C, or 913% of the DV (6).
Cherry Thai or Acerola cherries fruit on the tree, high vitamin C and antioxidant fruits. Selective focus.
Animal studies using acerola extract have shown that it may have cancer-fighting properties, help prevent UVB skin damage and even decrease DNA damage caused by bad diet.
Despite these promising results, no human-based studies on the effects of acerola cherry consumption exist.
3. Rose Hips
The rose hip is a small, sweet, tangy fruit from the rose plant. It’s loaded with vitamin C.
Approximately six rose hips provide 119 mg of vitamin C, or 132% of the DV (10).
Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis, which support skin integrity as you age.
Studies have found that vitamin C reduces sun damage to the skin, lessening wrinkling, dryness and discoloration and improving its overall appearance. Vitamin C also helps wound healing and inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis.
4. Chili Peppers
One green chili pepper contains 109 mg of vitamin C, or 121% of the DV. In comparison, one red chili pepper delivers 65 mg, or 72% of the DV .
Moreover, chili peppers are rich in capsaicin, the compound that is responsible for their hot taste. Capsaicin may also reduce pain and inflammation.
There is also evidence that approximately one tablespoon (10 grams) of red chili powder may help increase fat burning
This pink-fleshed tropical fruit is native to Mexico and South America.
A single guava contains 126 mg of vitamin C, or 140% of the DV. It’s particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene.
A six-week study involving 45 young, healthy people found that eating 400 grams of peeled guava per day, or around 7 pieces of this fruit, significantly lowered their blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
6. Sweet Yellow Peppers
The vitamin C content of sweet or bell peppers increases as they mature.
Just one-half cup (75 grams) of yellow peppers provides 137 mg of vitamin C, or 152% of the DV, which is double the amount found in green peppers.
Consuming enough vitamin C is important for your eye health and may help protect against cataract progression.
A study in over 300 women found that those with higher vitamin C intakes had a 33% lower risk of cataract progression, compared to those with the lowest intakes.
One-half cup (56 grams) of blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) contains 101 mg of vitamin C, or 112% of the DV.
Antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins give them their rich, dark color.
Studies have shown that diets high in antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins may reduce oxidative damage associated with chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
Gram for gram, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges and one of the highest vitamin C concentration of all.
One ounce (28 grams) of fresh thyme provides 45 mg of vitamin C, which is 50% of the DV .
Even just sprinkling 1–2 tablespoons (3–6 grams) of fresh thyme over your meal adds 3.5–7 mg of vitamin C to your diet, which can strengthen your immunity and help fight infections.
While thyme is a popular remedy for sore throats and respiratory conditions, it’s also high in vitamin C, which helps improve immune health, make antibodies, destroy viruses and bacteria and clear infected cells
Two tablespoons (8 grams) of fresh parsley contain 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended DV .
Along with other leafy greens, parsley is a significant source of plant based on home.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This helps prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia (27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).
One two-month study gave people on a vegetarian diet 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day with their meals. At the end of the study, their iron levels had increased by 17%, hemoglobin by 8% and ferritin, which is the stored form of iron, by 12% (29Trusted Source).
10. Mustard Spinach
One cup of raw chopped mustard spinach provides 195 mg of vitamin C, or 217% of the DV (30).
Even though heat from cooking lowers the vitamin C content in foods, one cup of cooked mustard greens still provides 117 mg of vitamin C, or 130% of the DV (31).
As with many dark, leafy greens, mustard spinach is also high in vitamin A, potassium, calcium, manganese, fiber and folate.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable.
One cup of chopped raw kale provides 80 mg of vitamin C, or 89% of the DV. It also supplies high quantities of vitamin K and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin (32).
One cup of cooked kale provides 53 mg, or 59% of the DV for vitamin C (33).
While cooking this vegetable reduces its vitamin C content, one study found that boiling, frying or steaming leafy greens helps release more of their antioxidants. These potent antioxidants may help reduce chronic inflammatory diseases (34Trusted Source).
One medium kiwi packs 71 mg of vitamin C, or 79% of the DV (35).
Studies have shown that the vitamin-C-rich kiwifruit may help reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol and improve immunity (1Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).
A study in 30 healthy people aged 20–51 found that eating 2–3 kiwis every day for 28 days reduced blood platelet stickiness by 18% and lowered triglycerides by 15%. This may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke (36Trusted Source).
Another study in 14 men with vitamin C deficiency found that eating two kiwis daily for four weeks increased white blood cell activity by 20%. Blood levels of vitamin C normalized after just one week, having increased by 304% (37Trusted Source).
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. One-half cup of cooked broccoli provides 51 mg of vitamin C, or 57% of the DV (38).
Numerous observational studies have shown a possible association between eating plenty of vitamin-C-rich cruciferous vegetables and lowered oxidative stress, improved immunity and a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease (39Trusted Source, 40Trusted Source).
One randomized study gave 27 young men who were heavy smokers a 250-gram serving of steamed broccoli containing 146 mg of vitamin C every day. After ten days, their levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein had decreased by 48% (41Trusted Source).
14. Brussels Sprouts
One-half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 49 mg, or 54% of the DV for vitamin C (42).
Like most cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, manganese and potassium.
Both vitamins C and K are important for your bone health. In particular, vitamin C aids the formation of collagen, which is the fibrous part your bones.
A large 2018 review found that a high dietary intake of vitamin C was associated with a 26% reduced risk of hip fractures and a 33% reduced risk of osteoporosis (43Trusted Source).
Lemons were given to sailors during the 1700s to prevent scurvy. One whole raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83 mg of vitamin C, or 92% of the DV (44).
The vitamin C in lemon juice also acts as an antioxidant.
When fruits and vegetables are cut, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. This triggers oxidation and turns the food brown. Applying lemon juice to the exposed surfaces acts as a barrier, preventing the browning process (45Trusted Source).
One cup of strawberry halves (152 grams) provides 89 mg of vitamin C, or 99% of the DV (52).
Strawberries contain a diverse and potent mix of vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, folate and other beneficial antioxidants.
Studies have shown that due to their high antioxidant content, strawberries may help prevent cancer, vascular disease, dementia and diabetes (53Trusted Source).
One study in 27 people with metabolic syndrome found that eating freeze-dried strawberries daily — the equivalent of 3 cups fresh — reduced heart disease risk factors (54 Trusted Source).
At the end of the eight-week study, their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels had decreased by 11%, while their levels of the blood vessel inflammation marker VCAM had decreased by 18% (54Trusted Source).
One medium-sized orange provides 70 mg of vitamin C, which is 78% of the DV (55).
Widely eaten, oranges make up a significant portion of dietary vitamin C intake.
Other citrus fruits can also help you meet your vitamin C needs. For example, half a grapefruit contains 44 mg or 73% of the DV, a mandarin 24 mg or 39% of the DV and the juice of one lime 13 mg or 22% of the DV (56, 57, 58).
- Vitamin C is vital for your immune system, connective tissue and heart and blood vessel health, among many other important roles.
- Not getting enough of this vitamin can have negative effects on your health.
- While citrus fruits may be the most famous source of vitamin C, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in this vitamin and may even exceed the amounts found in citrus fruits.
- By eating some of the foods suggested above each day, your needs should be covered.
- A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step toward good health and disease prevention.