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Boost Your Immunity with Vitamin C Rich Foods

As we hunker down for cold and flu season, it’s a good idea to ensure that your body is receiving enough Vitamin C to stay healthy. A powerful antioxidant, this vitamin lessens oxidative stress to the body and is also thought to help lower the risk of certain cancers. As a water-soluble vitamin, Vitamin C is not stored (except for small amounts) in the body. Any unabsorbed amount is excreted in the urine, which means you need to ensure that you are consuming Vitamin C each and every day. Why is Vitamin C so important for your body? Here are just a few things: - Growth and repair of bones, teeth, skin and other tissues - Increases absorption of iron from plant-based foods (important if you follow a plant-based diet!) - Helps to prevent cell damage, may reduce the risk of certain cancers and other chronic diseases - Protects from infections by keeping the immune system healthy Contrary to popular belief, high doses of Vitamin C have not been proven to help overcome colds and flus – it’s better to aim for a regular daily amount.

Recommended Daily Dose of Vitamin C

Below is the general recommendation for adults, although you should check with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns.

Age in Years Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) mg/day
Males 19 and older 90
Females 19 and older 75
Pregnancy women 19 and older 85
Breastfeeding women 19 and older 120
Source: National Institutes of Health

Vitamin C Rich Foods

Most colorful fruits and vegetables contain a decent amount of Vitamin C, as well as dark and leafy greens. Vegetables contain higher concentrations than fruit and both are a better source than most juices (which will have higher concentrations of sugar).

Peppers Top the Bunch!

When it comes to Vitamin C, peppers are king! Red and yellow bell peppers have nearly 3 times the vitamin C content of an orange. Even green bell peppers pack a vitamin C punch – about 60 mg in ½ cup. Like it spicy? Chili peppers have Vitamin C and if you have a cold, the spiciness can help clear congestion.

Greens

Everyone’s favorite green – kale – is also tops for vitamin C providing about 80 mg in a 1 cup serving. Cruciferous cousins, broccoli and Brussels sprouts, contain not only vitamin C, but also cancer-preventing phytonutrients and fiber.

Fruits

It’s true that citrus fruit like oranges and grapefruit boast the high vitamin C content - but still not as much as some veggies mentioned above. Expect about 40-60 mg of vitamin C in an orange or grapefruit. Other high vitamin C fruits are strawberries, mangoes, pineapple, kiwis, guavas and papayas – which are perfect for throwing into a smoothie. As long as you incorporate one Vitamin C rich fruit and one vegetable per day, you should be getting enough Vitamin C to keep your immune system functioning optimally. Choose your favorites and keep your immune system strong this winter!  

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