Vitamin C Functions and Food Sources

Vitamin C Functions and Food Sources

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is needed for normal growth and development. Here are some functions and food sources of vitamin C.

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. Although the body keeps a small reserve of these vitamins, they have to be taken regularly to prevent a shortage in the body.

Function

Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to:

  • Form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
  • Aid in the absorption of iron

Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals.

  • Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.
  • The buildup of free radicals over time is largely responsible for the aging process.
  • Free radicals may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.

The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own. It does not store vitamin C. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.

For many years, vitamin C has been a popular household remedy for the common cold.

  • Research shows that for most people, vitamin C supplements or vitamin C-rich foods do not reduce the risk of getting the common cold.
  • However, people who take vitamin C supplements regularly might have slightly shorter colds or somewhat milder symptoms.
  • Taking a vitamin C supplement after a cold starts does not appear to be helpful.

Food Sources

All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C.

Fruits with the highest sources of vitamin C include:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange and grapefruit
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries
  • Watermelon

Vegetables with the highest sources of vitamin C include:

  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
  • Green and red peppers
  • Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Winter squash

Some cereals and other foods and beverages are fortified with vitamin C. Fortified means a vitamin or mineral has been added to the food. Check the product labels to see how much vitamin C is in the product.

Cooking vitamin C-rich foods or storing them for a long period of time can reduce the vitamin C content. Microwaving and steaming vitamin C-rich foods may reduce cooking losses. The best food sources of vitamin C are uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables. Exposure to light can also reduce vitamin C content. Choose orange juice that is sold in a carton instead of a clear bottle.

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