Way before its discovery in 1932, nutrition experts acknowledged that something in citrus fruits could ward off scurvy, a disease that led to the deaths of two million sailors between 1500 and 1800.
Vitamin C has been recognized for its potential health benefits for the longest time. We all remember those times when our parents asked us to load up on it especially when we were sick or battling a cold.
Benefits of Vitamin C for Kids
- Vitamin C betters the absorption of non-heme iron present in plant foods such as leafy greens.
- Having a small glass of 100% green juice or including vitamin-C-rich food with meals can help boost iron absorption.
- Vitamin C can redress free radicals caused by certain environmental factors, such as exposure to environmental pollutants and UV radiation.
- It may further strengthen antioxidant function in the body by regenerating (recycling and repairing) other antioxidants like vitamin E.
- It also boosts the absorption of non-heme iron, a form of iron that is less promptly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract.
- Vitamin C plays a key role in controlling infections and healing wounds and is a powerful antioxidant that can countervail harmful free radicals. It is required to make collagen, which is a fibrous protein in connective tissue that is weaved throughout various systems in the body: nervous, immune, bone, cartilage, blood, etc. Besides, it also aids in making several hormones and chemical messengers used in the brain and nerves.
How to Take Vitamin C?
Though it has been linked to profound health benefits this essential micronutrient is something our bodies can’t produce. This water-soluble vitamin, also known as ascorbic acid is found in many fruits and vegetables, including oranges, strawberries, kiwi fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, and spinach.
If you’re trying to get more of this vitamin in your kid’s diet, it’s important to note that heat may destroy vitamin C. High-heat cooking temperatures or prolonged cook times may break down the vitamin. As it is water-soluble, there is a fair chance it might also seep into cooking liquid and be lost. Fast heating methods or using as little water as possible while cooking, such as stir-frying/blanching conserve the vitamin.
Vitamin C Rich Foods for Kids
This tropical fruit contains 125 mg of vitamin C or 138% of the daily value(DV). It’s packed with a potent antioxidant called lycopene.
A 6-week study with 45 young, healthy people established that eating 400 grams of peeled guava daily, or around 7 pieces of this fruit, significantly reduced their blood pressure and total cholesterol levels.
2. Sweet Yellow peppers
The vitamin C content of sweet bell peppers shoots up as they mature. One large yellow pepper provides you with 342 mg of vitamin C, or 380% of the DV, which is over twice the amount found in green peppers. Consuming enough vitamin C is crucial for your eye health and may assist cushion against cataract progression.
Half a cup (56 grams) of blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) holds 102 mg of vitamin C, or 113% of the DV. The rich, dark color is rendered from antioxidant flavonoids known as anthocyanins.
This sweet, high-fiber fruit is a good source of Vitamin C. One cup of cantaloupe slices contains 17.4 mg of Vitamin C, which is 19% of what is recommended for adults daily.
2 Tablespoons (8 grams) of fresh parsley(also a significant source of vitamin K & antioxidants) carry 10 mg of vitamin C, providing 11% of the recommended DV. As per a 2018 study, increasing vitamin C by 100 mg per day reduced the risk of cancer by 7%.
A 100-gram portion of this raw cruciferous vegetable provides 93 mg of vitamin C, or 103% of the DV apart from supplying high quantities of vitamin K and the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin.
One cup (118 g) of cooked kale provides 21 mg, or 23% of the DV for vitamin C.
A medium-sized kiwi or Chinese gooseberry packs 56 mg of vitamin C, or 62% of the DV. As per recent research, kiwis can have an inhibitory effect on blood platelets, which may help reduce the risk of blood clots and stroke.
A study involving 14 men with vitamin C deficiency established that having 2 kiwis daily for 4 weeks increased white blood cell activity by 20%. Blood levels of vitamin C normalized after just 1 week, having increased by 275%.
One-half cup of this cruciferous vegetable in cooked form provides 51 mg of vitamin C or 57% of the DV.
Several observational studies have indicated a possible association between eating plenty of vitamin-C–rich cruciferous vegetables and a decreased risk of cancer.
Did you know that lemons were given to sailors during the 1700s to prevent scurvy? One whole raw lemon provides 45 mg of vitamin C or 50% of the DV.
The vitamin C in lemon juice also performs as an antioxidant, evident through its ability to prevent other fruits and foods from browning. Lemon juice has also been found to lower blood pressure.
One lychee provides about 7 mg of vitamin C, or 7.5% of the DV, while a one-cup serving provides 151%.
According to research lychees contain polyphenol compounds including gallic acid, rutin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, kaempferol, quercetin, luteolin, and apigenin.
One cup (145 grams) of this mildly sweet, melon-like tropical fruit provides 88 mg of vitamin C or 98% of the DV.
Vitamin C also aids memory and has potent anti-inflammatory effects on your brain.
In a recent study, 20 people with mild Alzheimer’s were given concentrated papaya powder for 6 months straight. The results displayed decreased inflammation and a 40% reduction in oxidative stress.
1 Cup of sliced strawberries (166 grams) provides 97 mg of vitamin C or 108% of the DV.
Strawberries come packed with a diverse and potent mix of vitamin C, manganese, flavonoids, folate, and other beneficial antioxidants.
As per studies, because of their high content of nutrients and beneficial plant compounds, eating strawberries daily may help reduce the risk of several health conditions.
One medium-sized orange offers 83 mg of vitamin C, which is 92% of the DV. It’s a bonus if your kid is an orange lover as it makes up a significant portion of dietary vitamin C intake.
Taking Vitamin C Helps Prevent a Cold?
Today's market is flooded with products marketed to prevent & treat colds and various respiratory infections that range from plain vitamin C pills to fancier effervescent drinks. However, unfortunately, studies haven’t reported any major benefits so far.
Reduced Cold Severity: Recent studies have found that daily vitamin C supplements may help make colds less severe and decrease their length. They reduced the symptoms of a cold, making it less severe.
Reduced Cold Duration: As per recent studies, a daily dose of 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C can shorten a cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
However, while taking supplements is necessary to reach the high vitamin C intake required to improve colds, make sure not to overdo it as well as too much vitamin C might lead to some adverse side effects.
Opting for whole foods to meet your basic nutrient requirements is always a good idea. Best sources of healthy foods high in vitamin C include brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as oranges, kale, and red bell peppers.
How Much Vitamin C Does My Child Need?
Here we list down some of the best sources of vitamin C:
- 1/4 cup guava - 82.5 mg
- 1/2 cup orange juice - 50 mg
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper - 47.5 mg
- 1/4 cup papaya - 47.5 mg
- 1/4 cup kiwi - 41 mg
- 1/2 medium orange - 30 mg
- 1/4 cup broccoli - 30 mg
- 3 medium strawberries - 21 mg
- 1/4 cup pink grapefruit - 23 mg
- 1/4 cup cantaloupe - 17 mg
- 1/4 cup mango - 11 mg
- 1/4 cup raw tomato - 5 mg
- 1/4 cup spinach - 4.5 mg
- 1/4 cup potato, cooked without skin - 3 mg
- 1/4 cup banana - 2 mg
The amount of vitamin C in a food item varies depending on the size of the fruit or vegetable.
How Much Vitamin C Per Day for Kids?
Based on their age and appetite, kids may eat more or less than the amounts shown. Make sure to estimate the nutrient content accordingly. Focus on getting the recommended amount as an average over the course of a few days or a week.
Here go the upper daily vitamin C levels for children and infants:
- Infants aged 1–3 years:400 mg
- Children aged 4–8 years: 650 mg
- Children aged 9–13 years: 1,200 mg
- Teenagers aged 14–18 years:1,800 mg
There are of course exceptions to these limits as long as a person is under any specific treatment and the doctor has specified a different intake. Some kids may have to take larger amounts of vitamin C for medical treatments as and when advised to do so.
Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency in Kids
Vitamin C is an integral part of the immune system, which defends our systems against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. As per studies, low levels of this vitamin may lead to issues with the immune system and other illnesses.
Kids born in strictly vegetarian households or born prematurely, or are overweight are typically at risk for iron deficiency. However, it can happen to any kid who isn’t getting enough iron from a daily diet or supplements. If you are concerned that your child might be experiencing iron deficiency, here are some symptoms you can keep an eye for:
- Slowed growth and development
- Pale skin
- Low appetite
- Fast-paced breathing
- Cold hands and feet
- Continual infections
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Vitamin C Side Effects
Those are the maximum amounts considered safe by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine. So be careful before giving a child chewable supplements meant for adults because each tablet can contain up to 500 mg.
Any excess of it will be flushed out from the body through urine as Vitamin C is water soluble. Nevertheless, too much of it may result in nausea, diarrhea, kidney stones, and inflammation of the stomach lining.
Cell studies have shown that at very high concentrations, vitamin C can switch roles and act as a tissue-damaging pro-oxidant instead of an antioxidant. Its effects in humans at very high doses well beyond the RDA may lead to an increased risk of kidney stones and digestive upset.
Is it OK to take vitamin C pills every day?
Kids can get enough of this essential nutrient for the day through their food. An orange a day or a cup of strawberries, chopped red pepper, or broccoli provides enough vitamin C for the day anyway.
Vitamin C has potentially harmful side effects in the long term if a kid takes too many supplements on a daily basis. Usually, they will not suffer from any massive complications if they consume a lot of vitamin C-rich foods.
If your kid is taking any medication, always consult with your pediatrician about whether it's safe to take vitamin C as it can interact with drugs such as aspirin, acetaminophen, antacids, and blood thinners.
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*** Author Name: Deepashree Banerjee (7+ years of diverse experience in content creation & journalism.)