Nutrient Information: Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid

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Nutrient Key Information 
Nutrient Name: Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
Nutrient Category: Vitamins and Other Components
Measuring Unit: mg
Nutrient Summary: Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant which helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Nutrient Function: Vitamin C's primary function is antioxidant: it helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are molecules formed when your body converts the food you eat into energy, or got from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun. Free radical attacks can damage the polyunsaturated fatty acids in lipoproteins and in cell membranes, they can also alter DNA, RNA, and proteins, create excesses and deficiencies of specific proteins, impair cell functions, and elicit an inflammatory response.

Other functions include:

  • In the small intestine, vitamin C enhances iron absorption by protecting iron from oxidation. It also helps iron transport and storage.
  • Help to form the fibrous structural protein of the collagen which is an essential component of connective tissue. Thus, it helps wound healing, makes walls of the blood vessels stronger, provides matrix for bone growth, etc.
  • Help the production of white blood cells which enhance your body immune function to fight against infection.
  • Help regulating body’s inflammatory response.

Oxidative Stress (definition by National Cancer Institute)

A condition that may occur when there are too many unstable molecules called free radicals in the body and not enough antioxidants to get rid of them. This can lead to cell and tissue damage. There are many factors that may lead to oxidative stress, including obesity, poor diet, smoking, drinking alcohol, taking certain medicines, and exposure to environmental factors such as radiation, toxins, air pollution, pesticides, and sunlight. Long-term oxidative stress may play a role in aging and the development of chronic inflammation, cancer, and other diseases.

Some research found high intakes of vitamin C from fruits and vegetables (not from vitamin C supplements) might lower the risks of getting certain types of cancer, such as lung, breast, and colon cancer.

FDA recommended daily amount for Vitamin C is 90mg. When intake reaches 100mg, for most of people, vitamin C saturates the body tissues. When reaching 200mg, it reaches limit, the excessive vitamin C will be excreted. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is not well stored in the body, we need to intake Vitamin C daily.

Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid Interactions With Other Nutrients 
Iron, Fe
Vitamin C enhances nonheme iron absorption

Vitamin C helps convert ferric iron (Fe3+) found in plant-based foods into ferrous iron (Fe2+). Ferrous iron is more soluble and easier for the body to absorb in the small intestine. So including vitamin C-rich foods or beverages in the meals containing iron-rich plant foods can significantly improve iron absorption.

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Food Sources

Fruits: such as kiwi fruits, citrus fruits, papayas, strawberries, longans, pineapples, cantaloupe, etc.
Vegetables: such as peppers (yellow, red, and green sweet peppers), kale, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, tomatoes, red cabbage, bitter gourd, etc.
Juices: such as oranges, grapefruit, and tomato juice

• Your body doesn't produce vitamin C, so you need to get it from foods or supplements.
• Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat, raw fruits and vegetables contain much higher vitamin C amount than cooked ones.
• Oxygen destroys vitamin C, so store whole fruits and vegetables instead of cutting them and then storing.

Sample Foods High in: Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid
View Additional Food Sources
Food Description Nutrient Amount1 Daily Value%2
Peppers, sweet, yellow, raw
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
183.5 mg 203.89%
Peppers, sweet, green, sauteed
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
177 mg 196.67%
Kiwifruit, ZESPRI SunGold, raw
Category: Fruits and Fruit Juices
161.3 mg 179.22%
Mustard spinach, (tendergreen), raw
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
130 mg 144.44%
Kale, raw
Category: Vegetables and Vegetable Products
93.4 mg 103.78%
Oranges, raw, navels
Category: Fruits and Fruit Juices
59.1 mg 65.67%
1 Nutrient amount is in 100 gram food
2 Use FDA 2000 calorie diet as Daily Value reference

Additional Nutrient Information
Nutrient Summary Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant which helps to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Deficiency Health Effects Most people get enough vitamin C from a healthy diet including fruits and vegetables.
The early vitamin C deficiency symptoms are gums bleeding easily and skin pinpoint hemorrhages because of impaired collagen synthesis capability. More frequently catch infections.
Severe vitamin C deficiency may lead to a disease called scurvy. It can cause fatigue, aching limbs, inflamed and bleeding gums, loosened teeth, impaired wound healing, skin hemorrhages, and even anemia. Scurvy is relatively rare in the United States.
Effects if Above Upper Limit Large does of Vitamin C (> 3,000 mg/day) may cause diarrhea, nausea, and other gastrointestinal disturbances. Long-term use of oral vitamin C supplements (> 2,000 mg/day) increases the risk of significant side effects. Excessive Vitamin C may cause iron overload in the body that may damage cells instead.

Other concerns:
• Vitamin C dietary supplements might reduce the effect of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
• May interfere with some urine tests used to detect glucose or ketones in the diagnosis of diabetes.
• Excess vitamin C may reduce copper absorption.
External References
Additional Information Other key antioxidant nutrients are vitamin E, beta-carotene, and selenium.

Daily Value Age Group Recommended Daily Values Daily Value Upper Limits
Toddler 1 to 3 years old: 15 mg 400 mg
Child 4 to 8 years old: 25 mg 650 mg
Male 9 to 13 years old: 45 mg 1,200 mg
Male 14 to 18 years old: 75 mg 1,800 mg
Male 19 to 30 years old: 90 mg 2,000 mg
Male 31 to 50 years old: 90 mg 2,000 mg
Male 51 to 70 years old: 90 mg 2,000 mg
Male Senior 71 or older: 90 mg 2,000 mg
Female 9 to 13 years old: 45 mg 1,200 mg
Female 14 to 18 years old: 65 mg 1,800 mg
Female 19 to 30 years old: 75 mg 2,000 mg
Female 31 to 50 years old: 75 mg 2,000 mg
Female 51 to 70 years old: 75 mg 2,000 mg
Female Senior 71 or older: 75 mg 2,000 mg
Female Pregnancy (>18): 85 mg 2,000 mg
Female Lactation (>18): 120 mg 2,000 mg
FDA (Based on 2000 calorie daily diet): 90 mg

Dietary Reference Intakes The nutrient Dietary Reference Intakes and nutrition facts is from Institute of Medicine of National Academies 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
US FDA Nutrition Education Nutrition facts knowledge are based on U.S. FOOD & DRUG Administration Nutrition Education Resources & Materials.
National Institutes of Health Nutrition facts knowledge are based on National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets.
Disclaimer The nutrient information provided here should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (such as your doctor) about your dietary requirements which are best for your overall health. We also recommend you to read organization or professional reference documents or articles mentioned, but not limited to, in this page. Any mentions and reference links in this page don't represent our endorsement of their services and advice.

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