Vitamin C – A Must Have in a Sports Diet. What are the top foods with a high content of it?

It improves the post-workout regeneration rate and protects muscle cells from damage by free radicals, while at the same time boosting cell growth and recovery. In addition... it has an anti-inflammatory effect which helps to relieve sore muscles!

If you put together a ranking list of the “most popular” vitamins, there is one which will almost invariably come out on top. Obviously, it is vitamin C. Read on to find out more about its numerous positive effects on the human body. You will also learn which fruit types are genuine vitamin C superfood sources.

Why is vitamin C so important?

Ascorbic acid protects athletes, who are prone to injuries, as well as offers substantial support when inflammation develops.

Vitamin C:

  • Boosts tissue regeneration and rebuilding processes, enhancing collagen production and accelerating the healing of wounds and burns.
  • It has a beneficial effect on the processes involved in protein production and strengthens the joints, thus reducing the risk of injury.
  • It alleviates the symptoms of oxidative stress by neutralizing the adverse effects of reactive forms of oxygen, which may damage body cells.
  • It improves the absorption of minerals, mainly including calcium and iron.

Important notice: vitamin C supplementation directly before and after a workout is not recommended. It may contribute to inhibiting inflammatory processes, which adversely affects muscle buildup and disturbs regeneration. To enjoy the full benefits of your strength workout, make sure the meals you have before or after the session are not too rich in vitamin C. 

What are the effects of vitamin C deficiency?

They include joint pain, bleeding gums and tooth loss, as well as impaired wound healing. But there is more. Recent research results show that vitamin C deficiency may also adversely impact your mental health and lead to low mood and depression. Read on to find out more.

What is the recommended ascorbic acid intake?

Researchers from the National Academies Food and Nutrition Board recommend the following daily intake:

  • 90 milligrams (mg) for males aged 19+
  • 75 mg for females aged 19+
  • 85 mg during pregnancy
  • 120 mg while breastfeeding
  • an additional 35 mg for smokers

The recommended amount may be increased up to 2000-4000 mg per day to reduce the duration of the common cold or to boost immune system function.

What are the top sources of vitamin C?

Citruses and vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and bell peppers are the natural go-to choices for a high vitamin C content. The nutrient is especially easily absorbed in the form of delicious juice or fruit slices at any time of the year.

  • Orange juice (3/4 of a glass) – 93 mg
  • Guava (one fruit) – 125 mg
  • Strawberries (half a glass) – 49 mg
  • Grapefruit juice (3/4 of a glass) – 70 mg
  • Kiwi (one mid-sized fruit) – 64 mg
  • Papaya (one glass) – 88.3 mg
  • Orange (one fruit) – 82.7 mg
  • Fresh pineapple (one glass) – 78.9 mg
  • Mango (one glass) – 60.1 mg
  • Blackberries (half a glass) – 30 mg
  • Lemon (one fruit) – 34.4 mg

We have clearly debunked a very popular myth about lemon being an exceptionally good source of vitamin C. It turns out that almost three lemons would be necessary to meet the daily demand for the nutrient in an adult male. Strawberries, oranges or kiwis will certainly be a better choice.

Eat raw fruit!

Unfortunately, any thermal processing (pickling, baking, using in sauces) will cause a loss of vitamin C, as confirmed by studies published in journals such as Food Science and Biotechnology. Interestingly, the effect was mildest when food was heated up... in a microwave. However, fruit is best served raw. There are plenty of ways to enjoy it!

What are the effects of vitamin C according to science?

Let’s stop for a moment to consider the latest reports by scientists and to debunk some more myths.

  • Vitamin C and cancer

No, ascorbic acid is not a cure for cancer; however, research carried out by the National Cancer Institute has found that intravenous administration of vitamin C improves the quality of life of cancer patients. A study published in the International Journal of Cancer has demonstrated that women whose diet included plenty of vitamin C-rich fruit and vegetables had an 11% lower risk of developing cancer. 

  • Vitamin C and mental disorders

Several minor studies have confirmed that ascorbic acid can indeed affect the mood, while the most recent publications in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry suggest that depression and anxiety markers are lower in subjects with higher levels of vitamin C. Importantly, no study has so far unequivocally demonstrated the vitamin’s ability to treat or prevent mental disorders.

  • Vitamin C and the common cold

Virtually all of us have at some point tried to combat the common cold by drinking plenty of lemon tea or taking high doses of vitamin C as soon as we started feeling under the weather. That is unfortunately too late. According to research carried out by the Department of Public Health and the University of Helsinki, vitamin C cannot prevent the common cold, but it can reduce its duration.

Can you overdose vitamin C by eating a lot of fruit?

No, that would be difficult, even if you eat copious amounts of fresh produce. For example, you would need to eat 2 kg of oranges to provide the body with the same amount of vitamin C as is contained in a single 1000 mg vitamin C tablet. As regards dietary supplements – when in doubt, consult with your doctor!

A recipe for a smoothie rich in vitamin C

Serves two

  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 banana
  • A quarter of an avocado
  • 1 glass of orange juice

Blend together and drink right away! The smoothie is rich in nutrients so it is perfect as a mid-morning snack. The added avocado will enhance the absorption of all the vitamins contained in the fruit. Enjoy!