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Sources of Vitamin C You Wouldn’t Expect

Typically, when we think of vitamin C, we think of oranges and lemons, but there are many fruits and vegetables that contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits.

Once people in the office start getting sick, it seems everyone rushes for vitamin C-rich foods or supplemental capsules. However, there are many alternatives to getting vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, into your system.

According to the George Mateljan Foundation for The World’s Healthiest Foods, papayas, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, pineapple, Brussels sprouts and kiwifruit, all rank above oranges in terms of their vitamin C content based on their nutrient density and daily value percentage.

All of the foods listed above and immediately below are considered “excellent sources” in terms of their daily values and percentages. Following in order of next best sources of vitamin C after oranges are: cantaloupe, kale, cauliflower, grapefruit, turnip greens, mustard greens, collard greens, raspberries, Swiss chard, lemons and limes (juice), cabbage, tomatoes, romaine lettuce, winter squash (baked), summer squash, spinach, watermelon, green beans, fennel, parsley, asparagus and cranberries.

So the next time you’re looking for a massive vitamin C fix, grab some papaya! It tops the ranks, having 313.12 percent of ascorbic acid per fruit and a nutrient density of 47.5 percent.

Not feeling like eating fruit? Eat a cup of raw bell pepper! Each cup contains 195.8 percent of the daily value and a nutrient density of 123.6.

Vitamin C is created by many living creatures on their own within their cells, including most mammals. However, according to a publication by the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, “humans, primates, fruit-eating bats, guinea pigs, some birds and fish” are some of the few animals that cannot make vitamin C internally.

Since the body doesn’t manufacture this water-soluble vitamin on its own, it is important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in a daily diet for normal growth and development.

“There is extra body demand for vitamin C in traumatic injury, burns or infection [cases],” Michael Horoda, M.D., of Nova Medical Centers’ downtown San Antonio location, said. ”While it can be stored in the body for one to 6 months, the amount stored is directly related to diet.  So, some people have little and some people have a lot.”

“When an individual is deficient in vitamin C, they may experience symptoms of fatigue, mood changes, weight loss, joint and muscle aches, bruising, gum deterioration, dry hair and skin and be susceptible to infections,” Peter Ruiz, M.D., of Nova Medical Centers’ McAllen location, said.

If the deficiency continues, the symptoms become even worse.

“If you are totally cut off from a source of vitamin C you will eventually develop the medical illness known as ‘Scurvy,’ Horoda said. “Scurvy is a bad as it sounds.  Your red carpet appeal will nose dive as others notice brown spots on your skin, swollen, bleeding gums when you smile, and that you generally appear sick, ailing and weak.”

Luckily, scurvy is very rare now-a-days, but it does have a troubling history.

“The average American meets the daily requirements for this vitamin,” Victor Guerrero, M.D., at Nova Medical Centers’ South Austin location, said.  ”Historically, vitamin C deficiency often affected long-distance oceanic voyagers…. This deficiency was so pronounced it led to some sailors having irregular skin coloring, bleeding gums, non-healing wounds, tooth loss and [even] death.”

So branch out past the orange trees’ limbs and try getting vitamin C from the many broad choices you now know you have!

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