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Vitamin C

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Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

What is "a good food source"?
A good food source of vitamin C contains a substantial amount of vitamin C in relation to its calorie content and contributes at least 10 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C in a selected serving size. The U.S. RDA for vitamin C is 60 milligrams per day. The U.S. RDA given is for adults (except pregnant or lactating women) and children over 4 years of age.

The U.S. RDA for vitamin C is the amount of the vitamin used as a standard in nutrition labeling of foods. This allowance is based on the 1968 RDA for 24 sex and age categories set by the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences. The 1989 RDA for vitamin C has been set at 60 mg per day for women and men 19 to 50 years of age.

Where do we get Vitamin C?
In 1990, 93 percent of the vitamin C in the diets of Americans came from fruits and vegetables. Citrus fruits and tomatoes contributed almost half of the vitamin C provided by the fruits and vegetables group. Foods that contain small amounts of vitamin C but are not considered good sources can contribute significant amounts of vitamin C to an individual's diet if these foods are eaten often or in large amounts.

Vitamin C intake

Average intake of vitamin C in the typical American diet. The "Other Foods" category includes legumes, nuts, and soy (0.1%) and miscellaneous foods (0.8%).

Source: Gerrior SA, Zizza C. 1994 Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food Supply, 1909-1990. Home Economics Research Report No. 52. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Why do we need Vitamin C?
Vitamin C, a water-soluble vitamin, is important in forming collagen, a protein that gives structure to bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps maintain capillaries, bones, and teeth and aids in the absorption of iron.

Do we get enough Vitamin C?
According to recent surveys of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average intake of vitamin C by Americans 20 years of age and older was over the RDA for vitamin C. Women tended to consume less than men of the same age. Most nutrition scientists believe that there are no known advantages in consuming excessive amounts of vitamin C.

How can we get enough Vitamin C?
Eating a variety of foods that contain vitamin C is the best way to get an adequate amount. Healthy individuals who eat a balanced diet rarely need supplements. The list of foods on pages 3 to 4 of this fact sheet will help you select those foods that are good sources of vitamin C as you follow the Dietary Guidelines. This list of food sources was derived from the same nutritive value of foods tables used to analyze information for recent food consumption surveys of the USDA.

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