Now that fall is almost upon us and quite a few of us are back in school, it seems like a lot of people are getting sick. I run a coffee shop at a small college and we see an average of 500 customers per day. We are located in a freshman dorm and every year, all these germs combine together to give us what is commonly called “The Freshman Crud.” It’s a respiratory ailment that seems to have no origins other than germs from all over. One way to combat it is to take lots of Vitamin C.
Why Foods for Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of the antioxidants that keeps us healthy and enhances the immune system, among other things. You can take Vitamin C supplements, but most are synthetic and can’t be correctly assimilated by the body, and much of what you take is flushed out in the urinary system. Foods with naturally occurring Vitamin C are much better for you. They have smaller doses and can be eaten or drank frequently without the stomach upset that some Vitamin C supplements have.
Note from Matt & Betsy: While getting your vitamins from foods is best, there are times when a supplement really comes in handy. We like this whole food Vitamin C supplement made with camu camu and acerola cherry. It’s especially convenient to add to drinks at the first sign of sickness when you’re trying to load up on this vitamin.
Vitamin C Foods
We all know about citrus fruits containing Vitamin C. All of them – oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes and tangerines – have a large amount. But what about other foods? Here is a list of surprising sources and the average amount for an average size serving:
- Rosehips – 2000 mg per 100 grams
- Red Pepper – 190 mg per 100 grams
- Parsley – 130 mg per 100 grams
- Kiwi – 90 mg per 100 grams
- Guava – 188 mg per 100 grams
- Broccoli – 90 mg per ½ cup
- Black Currant – 200 mg per 100 grams
- Green Pepper – 70 mg per 100 grams
- Strawberries – 70 mg per ½ cup
- Brussels Sprouts – 70 mg per 100 grams
- Cantaloupe – 75 mg per 100 grams
- Chili Pepper – 244 mg per 100 grams
- Goji Berry – 73 mg per 100 grams
- Elderberry – 60 mg per 100 grams
- Papaya – 60 mg per ½ cup
- Cauliflower – 63 mg per ½ cup
- Calf liver – 48 mg per 8 ounces
- Oysters – 38 mg per 100 grams
- Kale – 123 mg per 100 grams
- Peas – 60 mg per 1 cup (and 48 mg in peapods!)
The next 5 are fairly new and may be harder to find. Check your local health food store or co-op:
- Camu Camu – 2800 mg per 100 grams
- Kakadu Plum – 2500-5000 mg per 100 grams
- Acerola Cherry – 1677 mg per 100 grams
- Sea Buckthorn – 675 mg per 100 grams
- Indian Gooseberry – 445 mg per 100 grams
You can see by this list, which is by no means totally inclusive, that many of the foods you eat now are high in Vitamin C. Most are from plant sources, but some are from animal sources. The more obscure foods may be harder to find, but the reward is well worth the search.
How much Vitamin C is enough?
For an average size adult male, 90 mg is considered enough Vitamin C for a healthy body. For females, 70 mg is enough. How much is too much? It is hard to get too much Vitamin C, but 2000 mg per day is considered too much. You will know when you are getting too much as your urine may burn and turn bright yellow or even orange. If you think you have gotten too much Vitamin C, simply drink a glass or two of water. Do not go overboard on the water as this can be more dangerous than too much Vitamin C.
Vitamin C Elderberry Glycerite Recipe
When I feel like I may be getting sick, with a few sniffles or sneezes, I turn to my elderberry glycerite. It can be made very easily and can be taken by children. You can substitute honey for the vegetable glycerin, but do not give to children under a year old if using honey.
- 1 cup dried elderberries (find organic dried elderberries here)
- 1 – 1¼ cups liquid vegetable glycerin (find organic vegetable glycerin here)
- Place dried elderberries in a glass pint jar. Cover with the vegetable glycerin. You may need to add a bit more glycerin after the elderberries have soaked it up.
- Place the cover on the jar and shake.
- Leave in a sunny spot for 2-3 weeks, shaking daily. Outside is best, but a sunny window will do.
- When the liquid looks dark purple, strain with cheesecloth and transfer to a small dark glass bottle with dropper. (Do not add water, as this will usually cause mold.) Store in a dark, cool place. Shelf life is about 1-2 years.
Take 5 drops a day to keep colds away or 5 drops every few hours as soon as you feel you are getting sick. Elderberries have powerful antioxidants including Vitamin C and have helped me many times get over the “crud” faster.
Note: Elderberries should never be eaten raw. If you are harvesting fresh elderberries, which should be ripening about August in many parts of the country, they must be treated first. Cooking is the best way to treat them, but drying and freezing will work as well. Once treated, they can be used in herbal preparations.
Are you prepared to fend off illness this fall and winter?
Check out these other useful articles:
- How to Treat & Prevent Illness Naturally at Home
- Homemade Elderberry Glycerite
- Homemade Fire Cider – A Natural Immunity Booster