What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and, as a result, is not stored by the body. This means we need to ensure we get adequate amounts from the food in our diets, each day.


Vitamin C has several important functions including:

How much vitamin C should we eat?

UK guidelines suggest adults aged 19 and over need 40mg per day, which you should be able to get from your diet.

Being water-soluble and sensitive to high heat, some vitamin C is lost during cooking. Raw fruit and vegetables will contain the most vitamin C but if you need to cook them at all then steaming appears to be the best method for retaining nutritional value.

Check out our Vitamins and Minerals Information Hub to learn more about key nutrients – from whether you’re getting enough vitamin D to the top 10 healthiest sources of vitamin C, plus vital minerals you need in your diet.

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Blackcurrant jam with bread and a cup of tea

Top 10 healthiest sources of vitamin C

1. Blackcurrants

160mg per 80g serving (cupped handful) or 200mg per 100g

Blackcurrants are small, round, purple-black berries that are tart to the taste. Just one 80g serving provides 200% of your daily vitamin C needs and surprisingly thirty times more vitamin C than blueberries.

Blackcurrants can be easily used to make jam or sorbet.

Discover our top 10 ways to cook with blackcurrants.

2. Broccoli (raw)

63mg per 80g serving (cupped handful) or 79mg per 100g

Whether eaten raw or cooked, broccoli is a useful source of vitamin C. It can be eaten as crudités or added to a juice or smoothie. You may prefer to lightly steam it as an accompaniment to your main meal, or add to a number of recipes, including soups, stir-fries or salads.

A cupped handful of raw broccoli provides about 60mg of vitamin C which is in excess of your daily needs. If cooked, levels of vitamin C drop to about 48mg per 80g serving, this is because vitamin C is sensitive to heat and is water-soluble.

Discover the health benefits for broccoli.

3. Green pepper

96mg per 80g serving (½ large pepper) or 120mg per 100g

Like its red counterpart, green peppers are very versatile, less sweet to the taste they make useful additions to stir-fries, Turkish eggs and when added to a zesty salsa.

Half a large green pepper will provide around twice your daily vitamin C needs along with vitamins B6, folate and fibre.

4. Guava

126mg per 55g serving (1 fruit) or 230mg per 100g serving

Guavas are a tropical fruit that can be eaten by scooping out the inside or eating it whole without the skin. You will need to remove the seeds in larger fruit. They can be juiced, added to fruit salads or made into a jam.

One guava fruit contains three times your daily vitamin C needs, they're also a good source of fibre, folate and potassium.

Kale with chana & coconut in a frying pan

5. Kale (cooked)

57mg per 80g serving (one handful) or 71mg per 100g

A popular ‘super food’, kale contains four times the vitamin C and twice the vitamin E as spinach, and contributes plant compounds, like beta-carotene. These nutrients are important for supporting a healthy immune system.

Add this leafy green uncooked to smoothies and salads, or add cooked to pasta, curries or steamed on the side of your meal.

Get cooking with out nutritious kale recipes.

6. Kiwi fruit

47mg per 80g serving (1 medium kiwi fruit) or 59mg per 100g

This bright green, tropical fruit is typically eaten raw. Simply peel and chop or cut in half and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon. It can be added to fruit salad, used to top yogurt or in a smoothie.

A single kiwi contains just over your daily vitamin C needs and they're a good source of vitamin K and fibre.

7. Orange

62mg per 120g serving (1 small orange) or 52mg per 100g

Many of us enjoy this bright, juicy fruit often. Try adding segments of orange to salads, fruit salads or used to top breakfast bowls . Don’t neglect the peel though, making up 40-50% of the fruit, the peel is richer than the flesh in minerals like iron and copper.

A single orange contains all your daily vitamin C needs as well as a good mix of vitamins and minerals including folate, calcium and magnesium.

Do bear in mind that unsweetened fruit juice can only count as one of your five-a-day, regardless of the amount you drink – guidelines suggest intake is limited to one 150ml glass per day. This is because crushing fruit into juice releases the natural fruit sugar they contain which can damage teeth.

Read more about the health benefits of oranges.

8. Papaya

48mg per 80g serving (½ small papaya) or 60mg per 100g

Papaya is a tropical fruit with soft flesh. It can be added to salads, made into a salsa, used in a smoothie or a dessert.

Half a small papaya will easily provide your vitamin C needs, along with some vitamin A, folate and potassium.

9. Red pepper

100mg per 80g serving (½ large pepper) or 126mg per 100g

Half a large red pepper contains over twice your daily vitamin C needs, as well as reasonable amounts of vitamins E and K, folate and fibre. A versatile ingredient red peppers can be added to soups, stews and stir-fries as well as eaten in salads.

Discover more recipes using red peppers.

10. Strawberries

46mg per 80g serving (7 medium strawberries) or 57mg per 100g

Deliciously sweet, low calorie and with just seven berries making 1 of your 5 a day, strawberries are a great healthy treat.

An 80g serving provides all your daily vitamin C needs and is rich in polyphenols – including strawberries in your diet may improve digestion, brain function and support heart health.

Discover the health benefits of strawberries.

Enjoyed this? Now read…

Vital vitamins
Five nutrients every woman needs
Am I getting enough vitamin D?
What supplements should I take?
20 foods to make you feel fantastic
What is vitamin B12?
How to prevent a cold

Nicola Shubrook is a qualified nutritionist registered with the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.


Nutrition data from McCance and Widdowson’s Composition of Foods unless otherwise stated.

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