Does an orange contain enough vitamin C to support optimal health? By Zoey Sky for Nutrients
Vitamin C or L-ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that’s an important part of a balanced diet. This essential vitamin has many bodily functions.
For starters, vitamin C helps with collagen production and boosts your immune system.
Many people think oranges are the best dietary source of vitamin C, but some fruits and vegetables are actually better sources of this essential mineral.
Is orange the best source of vitamin C?
Here is how much vitamin C is in orange.
According to nutrient analysis data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), one medium orange contains approximately 68 milligrams of vitamin C. (Related: Avoid sun damage with superfoods that offer photoprotective benefits for your skin.)
Surprisingly, a 3/4-cup serving of orange juice contains a little more vitamin C than an actual orange. Orange juice has a concentrated dose of around 93 mg of vitamin C.
However, if you’re after more fiber, a whole orange delivers more dietary fiber, especially if you can stomach the white, spongy pith.
Other fruits and vegetables that contain more vitamin C
Here’s a breakdown of other superfoods that either top the orange’s vitamin C capacity or come close, according to data from the USDA:
- Kakadu plums (100 grams) – 2,907 mg
- Acerola cherries (49 grams or 1/2 cup) – 825 mg
- Rose hips (100 grams) – 426 mg
- Chili peppers (1 pepper) – 109 mg
- Red pepper (1/2 cup) – 95 mg
- Grapefruit juice (3/4 cup) – 70 mg
- Kiwi fruit (medium) – 64 mg
- Green pepper (1/2 cup) – 60 mg
- Broccoli (1/2 cup) – 51 mg
- Strawberries (1/2 cup) – 49 mg
- Brussels sprouts (1/2 cup) – 48 mg
You can also boost your vitamin C intake by preparing this eye-catching and nutritious salad with green beans and pomegranate.
Green beans with pomegranate
Ingredients for eight servings:
- 500 g green beans, trimmed
- 1/3 cup (80ml) pomegranate seeds
- 2 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 Tablespoon pomegranate molasses (Store-bought or homemade.)
- 2 Teaspoons maple syrup
- 2 Teaspoons caster sugar
- Cook the green beans in a saucepan of boiling, salted water for three minutes.
- Drain the beans and refresh them in a bowl of iced water.
- Whisk the olive oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon juice, maple syrup and sugar together in another bowl.
- Place the cooked beans in a serving bowl and drizzle with the dressing.
- Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the beans before serving.
How much vitamin C do you need daily?
The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies based on factors like your age and gender.
- Adult men aged 19 and older need a baseline intake of 90 mg of vitamin C daily
- Adult women need at least 75 mg of vitamin C daily
- Pregnant women need at least 85 mg of vitamin C daily
- Breastfeeding mothers need at least 120 mg of vitamin C daily
Jessica Cording, a health coach and registered dietitian, said these are general recommendations. But it can vary in terms of what’s considered the optimal amount for you.
You may have higher needs during different times in your life, but at a minimum, you should aim for the RDA.
Data suggests that at least 42 percent of U.S. adults are deficient in vitamin C based on blood test results. At least 118 million American adults are also failing to consume adequate amounts of vitamin C daily from their diets.
If you’re taking in more vitamin C than you need, you will urinate the excess since your body will get rid of it, said Dr. Zhaoping Li, the director of the Center for Human Nutrition and chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
If you have a “megadose” of vitamin C, you may experience negative side effects, warned Li.
According to the National Academies, the tolerable upper intake level (UL) of vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day. The UL is defined as “the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population.”
Health benefits of vitamin C
Emily Achey, a registered dietitian nutritionist, said that vitamin C has a role in many important functions in the body. These include the following:
- Proper immune system function
- Tissue healing
- Collagen formation
- Maintenance of bones and cartilage
- Optimal absorption of iron
Vitamin C is your body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant and it has a major role in neutralizing harmful free radicals and fighting reactive oxidative species (ROS) throughout the body. The vitamin can also help regenerate other antioxidants in your body, like vitamin E and glutathione.
These nutrients work with vitamin C to protect different cells and tissues throughout the body.
According to studies, getting sufficient levels of vitamin C helps support memory and cognitive function.
Do you need to take vitamin C supplements?
Not everyone needs to supplement with vitamin C, especially if you get enough of it with a balanced diet.
If you’re not sure, examine your diet to see if supplementation can offer benefits. What specific needs are you covering with food?
Are there gaps in your diet? If you’re falling short of the ideal vitamin C intake from food, health experts recommend taking a vitamin C supplement.
If you are having issues with immune system function, you should also consider taking additional vitamin C.
Aside from the gap-filling approach, the science of vitamin C also offers potential benefits for higher potency dosing, such as increasing your dose from 500 mg to 1,000 mg, depending on your health goals.
If you want to optimize your immune response or for the reduction of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory biomarker, and promote cardiometabolic health (e.g., blood pressure), data suggests that high-potency C dosing may be beneficial.
Fresh oranges and orange juice are good sources of vitamin C, but there are other food sources of the essential vitamin. You can also supplement with vitamin C to boost your intake and support immune health.