Fact Sheet

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin present in almost all plant and animals. Humans (and other high primates), cannot produce their own body supply of vitamin C, and therefore require a dietary intake. The vitamin is required for many body functions. Here is a list of some bodily processes where vitamin C is involved:


Lack of vitamin C in a regular diet can cause a deficiency disease known as scurvy. The symptoms include bleeding of the gums and loosening of the teeth, together with lassitude, weakness, irritability and muscle ache. The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is set at 60mg.


Studies have shown that vitamin C levels become depleted during infection. An increase to 1 gram a day has been shown to help symptoms of the common cold. Asthmatics have reduced levels of vitamin C in their blood (1). Use of vitamin C supplements have been shown to reduce the severity of asthma attacks(2) and protect against exercise induced asthma(3).

Sources of Vitamin C

The main sources of vitamin C in the diet are potatoes, fruit juices, citrus fruit and green vegetables. The vitamin C content of foods varies very widely depending upon season, variety and freshness.

Foods and vitamin C content:

Food Quantity (mg/100g)
Blackcurrants 200
Pepper green 100
Brussels sprouts 90
Mango 80
Cauliflower 60
Cabbage 55
Oranges 50
Grapefruit 40
Sweet Potato 25
Tomatoes 20
Potatoes: new 16
Lettuce 15
Bananas 10


1. "Healing Through Nutrition", Dr M Werbach, Thorsons, 1993.
2. Anah CO, Jarike LN and Baig HA> High dose ascorbic acid in Nigerian Asthmatics. Trop Geograph Med, 32:132-137, 1980.
3. Schachter EN and Schlesinger A. The attenuation of exercise-induced bronchospasm by ascorbic acid.. Ann Allergy, 49:146-150, 1982.


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