Vitamin C helps protect your cells from the tissue-damaging free radicals produced by exercise. It also helps heal wounds, and it’s key to production of the collagen found in ligaments and tendons.
Vitamin C is frequently found in juices that are fortified with the vitamin, and most multivitamins have more than enough of the daily recommended amount, too. For natural sources of vitamin C, go for citrus fruits, peppers, and some vegetables.
The average daily recommended amount of vitamin C is 90 milligrams (mg) for an adult male, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. But an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study reports that 60 percent of adult men don’t get enough C in their diets.
Our advice: Pick one of these foods to eat in the morning. A vitamin C-packed breakfast could help you:
One cup of guava has 376.7 mg of vitamin C, more than four times the daily recommended amount. It’s an obscure tropical fruit that has a higher concentration of lycopene—an antioxidant that fights prostate cancer—than any other fruit or vegetable. Guava also has 688 mg of potassium and nearly 9 grams of fiber in every cup. Eat the whole thing, including the rind and seeds. It’s all edible, and jam-packed with nutrients.
2. Yellow Bell Pepper
One cup of chopped, raw yellow pepper has 272.8 mg of vitamin C. The benefit of these brightly colored peppers includes improved immune function, better communication between cells, protection against sun damage, and a diminished risk for several types of cancer. Chop up a cup’s worth, toss it into a salad, and you’re set.
One cup of thawed peaches has 235.5 mg of vitamin C. Buy them frozen, sliced, and sweetened for maximum vitamin C. Plus, the fruit is often doused with pesticides in the weeks prior to harvest to ensure blemish-free skin. By the time it arrives in your supermarket’s produce department, the typical peach can be coated with up to nine different pesticides, according to USDA sampling. Play it safe: Buy them frozen, or in a bag with a “USDA Organic” sticker.
4. Black Currants
One cup of black currants, a popular summer berry, has 203 mg of vitamin C. Fresh berries are always great, but black currant jelly is also a good source of quercetin—an antioxidant that Finnish researchers believe may improve heart health.
5. Mustard Spinach
One cup of chopped, raw mustard spinach has 195 mg of vitamin C. While mustard spinach looks like the regular kind, it’s actually in the same family as cabbage and broccoli. The easiest way to eat it raw? Use it in place of lettuce in a salad.
One cup of green kiwi has 166.9 mg of vitamin C. The fruit has high levels of antioxidants and serotonin, which can help you sleep better, according to researchers in Taiwan. In the study, men and women who ate two kiwis 1 hour before bed had significant improvement in their quality of shuteye.
Remember when your mom told you the peel was the most nutritious part of the fruit? She was right. One cup of an orange with the peel has 120.7 mg of vitamin C; without the peel, one cup of orange sections has just 97.5 mg. It’s the perfect office snack, and you have our permission to eat it withor without the peel, because you’re getting enough vitamin C either way.
8. Red Bell Pepper
One-half cup of red bell pepper has 115 mg of vitamin C, when boiled and drained without salt. Ripe, red bell peppers have nearly twice the vitamin C of green peppers and nine times the amount of vitamin A, because they’ve been soaking up the sun longer.
9. Green Bell Pepper
One-half cup of sautéed green pepper has 101.8 mg of vitamin C. Green bell pepper is the unripe version of the red bell pepper. Get your daily dose of green pepper in our Protein-Packed Bacon Omelet Bites.
One cup of halved strawberries has 89.4 mg of vitamin C. Strawberries are rich in anthocyanins, which can help lower blood pressure and make blood vessels more elastic. Strawberries are a common breakfast staple, and you can also mix them into the Perfect Post-Workout Smoothie.