Quick, what’s the best food to eat for vitamin C?
Most people would say oranges, which is a pretty good food for vitamin C, but far from the best.
I’ve put together a list of the best vegan vitamin C foods in a table below. Luckily for vegans, it’s not any harder to get vitamin C than on an omnivorous diet.
Table of Contents
How Much Vitamin C Should You Aim For?
But first, how much should you eat per day?
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is 75 mg for adult women, and 90 mg for adult men.
As you’ll see below, this plant-based vitamin is super easy to get on a vegan diet from a wide variety of foods, as long as you’re not eating mostly processed foods.
One thing to keep in mind is that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, and any that isn’t used just ends up being urinated out. This also means that it’s better to eat foods with vitamin C on a regular basis, rather than in binges once in a while.
A Table of the Best Vitamin C Rich Vegan Foods
Fruits and vegetables dominate this list, and most are relatively low in calories.
|Food||Vitamin C (mg) per 100 grams||Vitamin C (mg) per 100 calories|
|Red bell pepper||127.7||487.0|
|Green bell pepper||80.4||399.7|
|Lettuce (red leaf)||3.7||28.5|
A single 100 gram serving of many of those foods can get you past the RDA.
Here are a few notes of interest in my opinion:
- If you want to minimize your calories, you should stick to the leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, and kale.
- Bell peppers are near the top of the list, and are a food that most don’t think of when it comes to vitamin C.
- Finally, quite a few fruits are on the list. Oranges of course, but also strawberries, mangos, pineapple, and melons, among others.
Why Do You Need Vitamin C
Vitamin C is needed for a healthy immune system and a variety of other biological functions.
Severe vitamin C deficiency is quite rare. The most common consequence of a long-term deficiency is scurvy, which is all but eradicated in most countries.
There are many claims that extra high doses of vitamin C supplements can help cure the common cold, or prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. But no strong evidence exists for any of these claims.
Consider Pairing Vitamin C Sources With Iron Sources
The one mineral that’s actually hard for vegans to get enough of is iron. Not only is iron harder to find in plants, but it’s also non-heme iron, which is harder to absorb than heme iron from meat.
It turns out that vitamin C can greatly increase the absorption of plant-based iron when eaten alongside of it.
Take a look at the best vegan sources of iron, and consider adding one of the top vitamin C sources from this page to any of them.
Some of my personal favorite combinations are:
- Oatmeal and strawberries – Oats for the iron, and strawberries for vitamin C.
- Beans and red bell pepper – Beans for iron, and red bell pepper for vitamin C. Bonus points for adding lemon juice for extra vitamin C.
- Kale and hemp seed salad – Kale has a lot of vitamin C, while hemp seeds have a lot of iron. You can add just about anything to this salad base.
The Best Types of Plant-Based Foods for Vitamin C
In the list above there are a few standouts like guava, bell peppers, and strawberries.
But I wanted to highlight a few general types of vitamin C rich foods, because it’s easier to plan a diet around types of food rather than specific ones.
There are 3 groups in particular that are good to keep in mind.
When you think of leafy greens, you think of other nutrients like magnesium, iron, or calcium.
However, they also have a considerable amount of vitamin C (along with other vitamins).
In particular, the following greens made the list above:
- Mustard greens
- Swiss chard
Even though spinach is lowest on the list, it still has about 50% of the daily value of vitamin C in a 100g serving.
You could also include broccoli on this list, since it’s closely related to these plants.
All of these foods are very healthy in general, and eating more of them could result in multiple health benefits.
When most people think of vitamin C, they think of citrus fruits like oranges.
While they’re not as amazing as most people think, they still pack quite a bit of vitamin C.
|Fruit||Vit C (mg) per 100g||Vit C (mg) per 100 cal|
Including any citrus fruit on a regular basis in a plant-based diet can help boost your vitamin C intake.
For reference, a typical orange weighs 100-300 grams, so one orange can often meet your daily intake target.
Finally, I’d like to highlight a few types of melons and closely related foods.
In particular, all the following fruits have a good amount of vitamin C per serving:
These can be hard to get in the winter, but you can feel good about including them in your vegan diet when available.