Nutrient to Know: Vitamin C

Which has more vitamin C – a cup of broccoli or an orange? Find out the answer along with other vitamin C facts that may surprise you.

Which has more vitamin C: a cup of broccoli or an orange? Get the answer and learn more about the benefits of this vitamin.

What Is It?

Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) is one of many water-soluble vitamins. Because our bodies don't store water-solubles well, you should make vitamin C-rich foods part of your everyday diet to get a steady supply. You may also spot "ascorbic acid" in the ingredients on some packaged foods -- it’s sometimes added to foods to help them maintain freshness and color.

Why Is It Good for You?

Vitamin C forms collagen, a fibrous material that makes our body's connective tissue and keeps skin, hair and nails vibrant and strong. This vitamin also increases your body’s absorption of iron. If you need to get more iron, try mixing vitamin C-rich foods with iron-rich foods to make sure you get the best of both.

Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant to decrease inflammation and prevent damage to your body's cells. Ever spritz cut-up apples or avocados with lemon juice to keep them fresh? It's the same damage-fighting vitamin C in citrus juice that helps slow your apples' browning.

You can easily get your vitamin C from whole foods, but many people take supplements, which are safe in small amounts. Anything over 1,000 milligrams can cause stomach upset and possibly kidney stones, so don't overdo it.

Where Can I Find It?

To answer my teaser question, a single cup of broccoli has more vitamin C than a medium orange, and a medium red pepper has more than twice what the orange has! Eat any of the following foods, and you'll be able to get the recommended 60 milligrams every day.

1 medium orange = 70 milligrams (116%)
1 cup chopped pineapple = 79 milligrams (131%)
1 cup broccoli = 81 milligrams (135%)
1 cup strawberries = 98 milligrams (163%)
1 medium red pepper = 152 milligrams (253%)
Keep Reading

Next Up

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin A

Did you know vitamin A can be found in 2 major forms – each with their own special functions? Learn more about this “two-faced” nutrient.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin D

You may be up to speed on vitamin C and even know a bit about the various B vitamins, but what about vitamin D? Well, some are calling it the "super supplement." Here's what you need to know.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps protect cells from damage that may cause heart disease and certain types of cancer.

Nutrient to Know: Vitamin B12

Get the facts about vitamin B-12.

Nutrient to Know: Lycopene

Find out why lycopene is good for you and which lycopene-rich foods pack the biggest antioxidant punch.

Nutrient to Know: Lutein

Every wondered what makes spinach green? Or egg yolks yellow? The answer: Lutein. This antioxidant doesn’t just add color to your groceries -- lutein has numerous health benefits for your body, inside and out.

Nutrient to Know: Potassium

Your muscles just wouldn’t be the same without this mineral. Most folks know there’s potassium in bananas, but that’s not the only place you can find this powerful electrolyte.


Nutrient to Know: Calcium

This important mineral is essential to both bone and muscle health. It also happens to be one of the nutrients most folks don’t get enough of.

Nutrient to Know: Zinc

You may have heard of this trace mineral but do you know how important it is to your health? Get the facts about zinc.

Nutrient to Know: Zeaxanthin

This antioxidant powerhouse helps to protect your vision. Are you getting enough in your diet?