Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found in many foods, particularly fruits and vegetables.
It’s well known for being a potent antioxidant, as well as having positive effects on skin health and immune function.
It’s also vital for collagen synthesis, connective tissue, bones, teeth, and your small blood vessels.
The human body cannot produce or store vitamin C. Therefore, it’s essential to consume it regularly in sufficient amounts.
The current recommended daily intake (RDI) for vitamin C is 90 mg.
Deficiency symptoms include bleeding gums, frequent bruising and infections, poor wound healing, anemia, and scurvy.
Here are the top 20 foods that are high in vitamin C.
1. Kakadu plums
The Kakadu plum (Terminalia ferdinandiana) is an Australian native superfood containing 100 times more vitamin C than oranges.
It has the highest known concentration of vitamin C, containing up to 5,300 mg per 100 grams. Just one plum packs 481 mg of vitamin C, which is 530% of the recommended daily intake.
It’s also rich in potassium, vitamin E, and the antioxidant lutein, which may benefit eye health.
Summary: Kakadu plums contain up to 5,300 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, making it the richest known source of this vitamin. Just one plum delivers around 530% of the recommended daily intake.
2. Acerola cherries
Just one-half cup (49 grams) of red acerola cherries (Malpighia emarginata) delivers 822 mg of vitamin C or 913% of the recommended daily intake.
Animal studies using acerola extract have shown that it may have cancer-fighting properties, help prevent UVB skin damage and even decrease DNA damage caused by a bad diet.
Despite these promising results, no human-based studies on the effects of acerola cherry consumption exist.
Summary: Just one-half cup of acerola cherries delivers 913% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C. The fruit may even have cancer-fighting properties, although human-based research is lacking.
The rosehip is a small, sweet, tangy fruit from the rose plant. It’s loaded with vitamin C.
Approximately six rose hips provide 119 mg of vitamin C or 132% of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin C is needed for collagen synthesis, which supports skin integrity as you age.
Studies have found that vitamin C reduces sun damage to the skin, lessening wrinkling, dryness, and discoloration and improving its overall appearance. Vitamin C also helps wound healing and inflammatory skin conditions like dermatitis.
Summary: Rose hips provide 426 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Around six pieces of this fruit deliver 132% of the recommended daily intake and encourage healthier-looking skin.
4. Chili peppers
One green chili pepper contains 109 mg of vitamin C or 121% of the recommended daily intake. In comparison, one red chili pepper delivers 65 mg or 72% of the recommended daily intake.
Moreover, chili peppers are rich in capsaicin, the compound that is responsible for their hot taste. Capsaicin may also reduce pain and inflammation.
There is also evidence that approximately one tablespoon (10 grams) of red chili powder may help increase fat burning.
Summary: Green chili peppers contain 242 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Therefore, one green chili pepper delivers 121% of the recommended daily intake, while one red chili pepper delivers 72%.
This pink-fleshed tropical fruit is native to Mexico and South America.
Single guava contains 126 mg of vitamin C or 140% of the recommended daily intake. It’s particularly rich in the antioxidant lycopene.
Suggested read: The 12 best foods for healthy skin
A six-week study involving 45 young, healthy people found that eating 400 grams of peeled guava per day, or around 7 pieces of this fruit, significantly lowered their blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
Summary: Guavas contain 228 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One guava fruit delivers 140% of the recommended daily intake for this vitamin.
6. Sweet yellow peppers
The vitamin C content of sweet or bell peppers increases as they mature.
Just one-half cup (75 grams) of yellow peppers provides 137 mg of vitamin C, or 152% of the recommended daily intake, which is double the amount found in green peppers.
Consuming enough vitamin C is important for your eye health and may help protect against cataract progression.
A study in over 300 women found that those with higher vitamin C intakes had a 33% lower risk of cataract progression, compared to those with the lowest intakes.
Summary: Yellow peppers contain the highest vitamin C concentration of all sweet peppers with 183 mg per 100 grams. One-half cup of sweet yellow peppers delivers 152% of the recommended daily intake.
One-half cup (56 grams) of blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) contains 101 mg of vitamin C or 112% of the recommended daily intake.
Antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins give them their rich, dark color.
Studies have shown that diets high in antioxidants like vitamin C and anthocyanins may reduce oxidative damage associated with chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Summary: Blackcurrants contain 181 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of blackcurrants packs 112% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C and may help reduce chronic inflammation.
Gram for gram, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges and is one of the highest vitamin C concentrations of all culinary herbs.
Suggested read: 12 proven health benefits of grapes
One ounce (28 grams) of fresh thyme provides 45 mg of vitamin C, which is 50% of the recommended daily intake.
Even just sprinkling 1–2 tablespoons (3–6 grams) of fresh thyme over your meal adds 3.5–7 mg of vitamin C to your diet, which can strengthen your immunity and help fight infections.
While thyme is a popular remedy for sore throats and respiratory conditions, it’s also high in vitamin C, which helps improve immune health, make antibodies, destroy viruses and bacteria, and clear infected cells.
Summary: Thyme contains more vitamin C than most culinary herbs with 160 mg per 100 grams. One ounce of fresh thyme provides 50% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C. Thyme and other foods high in vitamin C boost your immunity.
Two tablespoons (8 grams) of fresh parsley contain 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended daily intake.
Along with other leafy greens, parsley is a significant source of plant-based, non-heme iron.
Vitamin C increases the absorption of non-heme iron. This helps prevent and treat iron-deficiency anemia.
One two-month study gave people on a vegetarian diet 500 mg of vitamin C twice a day with their meals. At the end of the study, their iron levels had increased by 17%, hemoglobin by 8%, and ferritin, which is the stored form of iron, by 12%.
Summary: Parsley contains 133 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. Sprinkling two tablespoons of fresh parsley on your meal delivers 11% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, which helps increase iron absorption.
10. Mustard spinach
One cup of raw chopped mustard spinach provides 195 mg of vitamin C or 217% of the recommended daily intake.
Even though the heat from cooking lowers the vitamin C content in foods, one cup of cooked mustard greens still provides 117 mg of vitamin C or 130% of the recommended daily intake.
Summary: Mustard spinach contains 130 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of this leafy green provides 217% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C when raw, or 130% when cooked.
Kale is a cruciferous vegetable.
One cup of chopped raw kale provides 80 mg of vitamin C or 89% of the recommended daily intake. It also supplies high quantities of vitamin K and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
Suggested read: 9 health benefits of tangerines
One cup of cooked kale provides 53 mg or 59% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
While cooking this vegetable reduces its vitamin C content, one study found that boiling, frying, or steaming leafy greens helps release more of their antioxidants. These potent antioxidants may help reduce chronic inflammatory diseases.
Summary: Kale contains 120 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of raw kale delivers 89% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, while a lightly steamed cup provides 59%.
One medium kiwi packs 71 mg of vitamin C or 79% of the recommended daily intake.
Studies have shown that vitamin-C-rich kiwifruit may help reduce oxidative stress, lower cholesterol, and improve immunity.
A study in 30 healthy people aged 20–51 found that eating 2–3 kiwis every day for 28 days reduced blood platelet stickiness by 18% and lowered triglycerides by 15%. This may reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
Another study in 14 men with vitamin C deficiency found that eating two kiwis daily for four weeks increased white blood cell activity by 20%. Blood levels of vitamin C normalized after just one week, having increased by 304%.
Summary: Kiwis contain 93 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One medium-sized kiwi provides 79% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, which benefits blood circulation and immunity.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable. One-half cup of cooked broccoli provides 51 mg of vitamin C or 57% of the recommended daily intake.
Numerous observational studies have shown a possible association between eating plenty of vitamin-C-rich cruciferous vegetables and lowered oxidative stress, improved immunity, and a decreased risk of cancer and heart disease.
One randomized study gave 27 young men who were heavy smokers a 250-gram serving of steamed broccoli containing 146 mg of vitamin C every day. After ten days, their levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein had decreased by 48%.
Summary: Broccoli contains 89 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of steamed broccoli provides 57% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and may lower your risk of inflammatory diseases.
14. Brussels sprouts
One-half cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides 49 mg or 54% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
Like most cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are also high in fiber, vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, manganese, and potassium.
Both vitamins C and K are important for your bone health. In particular, vitamin C aids the formation of collagen, which is the fibrous part of your bones.
A large 2018 review found that a high dietary intake of vitamin C was associated with a 26% reduced risk of hip fractures and a 33% reduced risk of osteoporosis.
Summary: Brussels sprouts contain 85 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One-half cup of steamed Brussels sprouts provides 54% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, which may improve your bone strength and function.
Lemons were given to sailors during the 1700s to prevent scurvy. One whole raw lemon, including its peel, provides 83 mg of vitamin C, or 92% of the recommended daily intake.
The vitamin C in lemon juice also acts as an antioxidant.
When fruits and vegetables are cut, the enzyme polyphenol oxidase is exposed to oxygen. This triggers oxidation and turns the food brown. Applying lemon juice to the exposed surfaces acts as a barrier, preventing the browning process.
Summary: Lemons contain 77 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, with one medium lemon delivering 92% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C has potent antioxidant benefits and can keep your cut fruits and vegetables from turning brown.
One lychee provides nearly 7 mg of vitamin C, or 7.5% of the recommended daily intake, while a one-cup serving provides 151%.
Lychees also contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which benefit your brain, heart, and blood vessels.
Studies specifically on lychee are unavailable. Nonetheless, this fruit provides plenty of vitamin C, which is known for its role in collagen synthesis and blood vessel health.
An observational study in 196,000 people found that those with the highest vitamin C intakes had a 42% reduced risk of stroke. Each extra serving of fruits or vegetables lowered the risk by an additional 17%.
Suggested read: The 21 best low-carb vegetables
Summary: Lychees contain 72 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One single lychee contains an average of 7.5% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C, while a one-cup serving provides 151%.
17. American persimmons
Persimmons are orange-colored fruit that resembles a tomato. There are many different varieties.
Though the Japanese persimmon is the most popular, the native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) contains almost nine times more vitamin C.
One American persimmon contains 16.5 mg of vitamin C or 18% of the recommended daily intake.
Summary: American persimmons contain 66 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One American persimmon packs 18% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin C.
One cup (145 grams) of papaya provides 87 mg of vitamin C, or 97% of the recommended daily intake.
Vitamin C also aids memory and has potent anti-inflammatory effects on your brain.
In one study, 20 people with mild Alzheimer’s were given a concentrated papaya extract for six months. The results showed decreased inflammation and a 40% reduction in oxidative stress.
Summary: Papaya contains 62 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of papaya delivers 87 mg of vitamin C, which may help improve memory.
One cup of strawberry halves (152 grams) provides 89 mg of vitamin C or 99% of the recommended daily intake.
Strawberries contain a diverse and potent mix of vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, folate, and other beneficial antioxidants.
Studies have shown that due to their high antioxidant content, strawberries may help prevent cancer, vascular disease, dementia, and diabetes.
One study in 27 people with metabolic syndrome found that eating freeze-dried strawberries daily — the equivalent of 3 cups fresh — reduced heart disease risk factors.
At the end of the eight-week study, their “bad” LDL cholesterol levels had decreased by 11%, while their levels of the blood vessel inflammation marker VCAM had decreased by 18%.
Summary: Strawberries contain 59 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One cup of strawberry halves delivers 89 mg of vitamin C. This nutritious fruit may help your heart and brain health.
One medium-sized orange provides 70 mg of vitamin C, which is 78% of the recommended daily intake.
Suggested read: 20 healthy fruits that are super nutritious
Widely eaten, oranges make up a significant portion of dietary vitamin C intake.
Other citrus fruits can also help you meet your vitamin C needs. For example, half a grapefruit contains 44 mg or 73% of the recommended daily intake, a mandarin 24 mg or 39% of the recommended daily intake, and the juice of one lime 13 mg or 22% of the recommended daily intake.
Summary: Oranges contain 53 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. One medium orange delivers 70 mg of vitamin C. Other citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, mandarins, and limes, are also good sources of this vitamin.
Vitamin C is vital for your immune system, connective tissue, and heart and blood vessel health, among many other important roles.
Not getting enough of this vitamin can have negative effects on your health.
While citrus fruits may be the most famous source of vitamin C, a wide variety of fruits and vegetables are rich in this vitamin and may even exceed the amounts found in citrus fruits.
By eating some of the foods suggested above each day, your needs should be covered.
A diet rich in vitamin C is an essential step toward good health and disease prevention.