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Foods high in vitamin C

4-minute read

Key facts

  • Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that is important for keeping your skin, bones and connective tissue healthy.
  • Fruits and vegetables are the best source of vitamin C.
  • Maintaining a balanced diet means including a variety of nutritious foods from all 5 food groups every day.

Why should I include vitamin C in my diet?

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that helps your digestive system absorb minerals from the food you eat, including iron (which helps your blood cells carry oxygen through your body) and copper (which helps produce red and white blood cells). It also keeps your skin, bones and connective tissue healthy.

If your diet is low in minerals, then including foods high in vitamin C in your diet is even more important. Vitamin C must be consumed regularly as part of a healthy diet.

Go here for more information on vitamin C and your health.

What are the best natural sources of vitamin C?

Vitamin C is found in many different fruits and vegetables. These fruits include citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and lemon, kiwi fruit, blackcurrants, strawberries and guava. Vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, cooked kale, Brussels sprouts and Chinese cabbage, will also provide you with vitamin C.

The amount of vitamin C in fruits and vegetables varies and can be influenced by season, transportation, shelf life and storage time. Eating fruits and vegetables fresh is ideal since cutting, bruising, cooking, heating or exposure to certain materials can destroy or reduce the amount of vitamin C in some foods.

What is a balanced diet?

To achieve and maintain a balanced diet, try to be aware of the foods and drinks you consume, and include a variety of nutritious foods from all 5 food groups every day. The 5 food groups are:

  • vegetables and legumes/beans —­ at least 5 serves daily
  • fruit — 2 serves daily
  • lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans ­— 1 to 3 serves a day, depending on your age (and during pregnancy, 3-4 serves a day are recommended)
  • milk, yoghurt cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat — at least 2-3 serves daily, with the minimum amount varying based on your age, sex and life stage
  • grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties — the number of daily serves of wholegrain cereals you need varies based on your age and life stage, ranging from 4 serves daily for children to 6 serves daily for adult men under 70 years and adult women under 50 years of age

Aim to limit takeaway foods such as pizza and fried foods to once weekly or less, and opt for water rather than sugary drinks. Limit sweet foods like cakes and muffins as well as salty, processed foods like salami and chips.

Drink no more than 2 standard alcoholic drinks on any one day. For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the safest option is to not drink any alcohol.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: May 2022

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