Vegan Vitamin C Foods
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an important antioxidant that protects the body against free radicals. It is also required for the formation of collagen, which is the main component of connective tissue. Therefore, it is highly important to consume foods rich in vitamin C since the human body cannot produce it on its own.
Ascorbic acid is very sensitive to air, light, and heat. 1 2. Storing the corresponding foods also leads to a greater loss of vitamin C. For example, after winter storage of potatoes, only one-fifth of the original vitamin C content remains 3. Thus, the vitamin C concentrations decrease from 30 to 8 mg per 100 g during an 8- to 9-month storage period 4.
A significant portion of the existing vitamin is destroyed through further processing such as boiling, frying, and steaming 5. Additionally, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, so it leaches into water when in contact, for example, during cooking. According to a study, about 34.6% of ascorbic acid is lost during cooking 6.
Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of natural vitamin C. They provide approximately 90% of the daily requirement of vitamin C in the general population 7. They should be consumed raw and preferably unprocessed. By consuming 5 to 9 servings of fresh, minimally processed, or frozen fruits and vegetables, approximately 200 mg of vitamin C can be obtained 8.
The ascorbic acid contained in food is absorbed by the body at a rate of 70 to 90% (30 to 180 mg per day) 11.
We have compiled a selection of foods rich in vitamin C that should be regularly consumed as part of a healthy and vitamin-rich diet. These are plant-based or vegan foods with high amounts of vitamin C.
Fruits with Vitamin C
Fruits are particularly rich in vitamin C. Citrus fruits, such as grapefruit (61 mg per 100 g), orange (53.2 mg), lemon (53 mg), kumquat (43.9 mg), grapefruit (34.4 mg), lime (29.1 mg), and tangerine (26.7 mg), have high levels of vitamin C.
Other fruits with high vitamin C content include acerola cherry (1.68 g), rose hip (426 mg), guava (228.3 mg), gold kiwi (161.3 mg), kiwi (92.7 mg), lychee (71.5 mg), papaya (60.9 mg), strawberries (58.8 mg), pineapple (47.8 mg), cantaloupe melon (36.7 mg), mango (36.4 mg), star fruit (34.4 mg), and passion fruit (30 mg).
Berry fruits such as blackcurrant (181 mg), gooseberry (27.7 mg), raspberry (26.2 mg), blackberry (21 mg), cranberry (14 mg), and blueberry (9.7 mg) are also rich in vitamin C. Sea buckthorn is also high in vitamin C, with 130 mg. The amounts range from 28 to 310 mg. 12.
In general, the peel of fruits contains more antioxidant compounds than the pulp. 13.
You can find the table with vitamin C in fruits here.
Vitamin C in Vegetables
As mentioned earlier, vegetables contain a significant amount of vitamin C. All cruciferous vegetables (Brassica family) are rich sources of healthy vitamin C. 14. Kale (120 mg), broccoli (89.2 mg), Brussels sprouts (85 mg), kohlrabi (62 mg), cauliflower (48.2 mg), turnip (25 mg), and radishes (14.8 mg) are excellent sources from the cruciferous family.
Yellow bell pepper (183.5 mg), red chili pepper (143.7 mg), red bell pepper (127.7 mg), and green bell pepper (80.4 mg) are very good sources of natural vitamin C.
Other foods rich in vitamin C in this group include Romanesco (88.1 mg), watercress (69 mg), garlic (31.2 mg), Swiss chard (30 mg), lamb's lettuce (38.2 mg), spinach (28.1 mg), bok choy (27 mg), potato (24 mg), spring onion (18.8 mg), zucchini (17.9 mg), parsnip (17 mg), and tomato (13.7 mg).
The table listing vegetables high in vitamin C shows which other vegetables contain vitamin C.
Fresh herbs are also foods rich in vitamin C. Thyme (160.1 mg), parsley (133 mg), dill (85 mg), chives (58.1 mg), and peppermint (31.8 mg) contain a significant amount of vitamin C. Dried herbs and spices can also contribute to meeting the vitamin C requirements. For example, rosemary (61.2 mg), marjoram (51.4 mg), and tarragon (50 mg) have higher amounts.
Among legumes, sugar snap peas are one of the best sources of vitamin C with 60 mg, followed by green peas (40 mg), lima beans (15 mg), and soybeans (6 mg). Overall, mature legumes are relatively low in vitamin C.
By sprouting the seeds, the vitamin C content can be significantly increased.
Grains contain very little vitamin C. The best source here is sweet corn with 6.8 mg. Pseudocereals such as amaranth and canihua also have very low amounts of vitamin C, with 4.2 mg and 2.2 mg, respectively.
You can find the table of grains and grain products with vitamin C here.
Nuts and Seeds
Also, seeds and nuts contain little vitamin C. The relatively rarely eaten chestnuts (40.2 mg), mustard seeds (30.7 mg), and beech nuts (15.5 mg) are the richest sources. It is also worth mentioning hazelnuts (6.3 mg), pistachios (5.6 mg), pumpkin seeds (1.9 mg), chia seeds (1.6 mg), and sunflower seeds (1.4 mg).
The table shows which other seeds and nuts also contain vitamin C.
Fruit juices have significant amounts in this group. Orange juice and lemon juice, for example, are rich in vitamin C, with 50 mg and 38.7 mg, respectively.
Vitamin C is added to some food products, mainly as an antioxidant, emulsifier, acidulant, color stabilizer, and flour treatment agent. You can identify vitamin C in these products through the ingredient list, which includes the E numbers E300 to E304.
- E300: Ascorbic acid
- E301: Ascorbic acid salts (sodium ascorbate)
- E302: Calcium salt of ascorbic acid (calcium ascorbate)
- E303: Potassium salt of ascorbic acid (potassium ascorbate) - currently not used
- E304: Fatty acid ester of ascorbic acid (ascorbyl palmitate)
For example, some breakfast cereals contain ascorbic acid.