With a vegan diet, you should pay attention to certain things. For example, some nutrients are difficult to obtain through a purely plant-based diet. But what about vitamin C ? Which vitamin C sources do you have to do without as a vegan and which foods provide you vegan vitamin C?
Here you will find all the information summarized.
Why do you need vitamin C? Effect and need explained.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is one of the essential nutrients. This means that our body cannot produce the vitamin itself and we therefore have to absorb it through the diet.
Vitamin C is absorbed via the digestive tract: through membranes in the intestinal wall, L-ascorbic acid, as the organic form of vitamin C is also called, enters the metabolism and finally into the bloodstream and organs.
Once there, vitamin C is especially important because of its action as an antioxidant . These are substances that can prevent potentially harmful chain reactions of free radicals (oxygen atoms that are particularly reactive) at the cellular level. This effect makes the vitamin irreplaceable for a normal function of the immune system.
In addition, vitamin C is also important in the production of connective tissue, iron metabolism and various detoxification reactions in the body.
As far as vitamin C requirements are concerned, you should above all know that the vitamin C battery in the body is not very large: In the adrenal gland as well as in the liver, only a certain amount of the vitamin can be stored before fresh vitamin C has to be absorbed again.
This means that your diet should ideally include daily vitamin C-containing, vegan foods .
Strictly speaking, the daily requirement for vitamin C is set by the German Society for Nutrition (DGE) between 95 and 110 mg per day for adults from about 18 years of age. Children and adolescents need a little less, pregnant and breastfeeding women a little more:
|Age||Vitamin C daily requirement in milligrams|
|1 to under 4 years||20|
|7 to under 10 years||45|
|13 to under 15 years||85|
You have to do without these vitamin C sources in a vegan diet
Often you hear that you no longer get all the nutrients equally well when switching to a purely plant-based diet. Fortunately, this is not the case with vitamin C .
More specifically, we find L-ascorbic acid almost exclusively in plant foods. Meat and animal products are therefore negligible in terms of vitamin C: In general, meat (except for offal) contains no vitamin C, fish only very little and even dairy products only a fraction of the daily requirement. The vitamin is also not found in eggs.
Vegan nutrition even has the edge here: Vegan people often have a higher vitamin C level than non-vegans due to their comparatively high fruit and vegetable consumption.
However, due to intolerances or simply one’s own eating habits, a vitamin C deficiency cannot be ruled out even with a plant-based diet.
How to notice a vitamin C deficiency
Sailors, who often did not eat fresh food, often fell ill with scurvy. This is a disease that can be caused by a lack of absorption of vitamin C.
The symptoms are:
- Slowed wound healing
- Bleeding (first on the gums, for example)
- Water retention in the tissue
- Joint pain
As a rule, with a healthy metabolism, there is no reaction to an overdose with vitamin C. The superfluous substance is simply excreted by the kidneys. Only if you have kidney disease or vitamin C allergy, you should be careful when taking it.
A vitamin C deficiency or excess can also occur with a vegan diet. If you suspect that you are suffering from it, the vitamin C level can be determined relatively accurately via a blood test. Here you should definitely seek medical advice.
Vegan and Vitamin C: The Best Foods
As mentioned earlier, vegetables and fruits are absolute number 1 when it comes to vitamin C intake. In general, you have probably already heard that citrus fruits, for example, are rich in the vitamin. But lemon and orange are far from the best vegan sources of vitamin C. In the domestic gardens there are even real vitamin C bombs. Here are our top 5:
5. Citrus fruits
Probably the most popular vitamin C donors in the cold season. Oranges and tangerines not only taste wonderful, they also provide important nutrients with ~50 mg of vegan vitamin C per 100 grams . Sour is not necessarily healthier: A lemon has about the same amount of vitamin C as an orange.
Kale contains about 105 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams , making it not only delicious, but also really healthy. When preparing, however, make sure not to expose the vegetables to too much heat. Especially by boiling in the water, a relatively large amount of vitamin C can be lost.
With a whopping 115 mg of vegan vitamin C per 100 grams , broccoli should also be regularly on your diet. However, since the vegetables are always cooked, the same warning applies here as with kale: the less heat, the more vitamin C. With careful preparation, however, broccoli still manages to reach about 90 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams.
2. Paprika (red)
With 140 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams, red peppers are the absolute leaders among peppers. Another plus is that the vegetables can also be enjoyed wonderfully in raw form. Whether in salad or sandwich: Paprika is a vegan vitamin C bomb.
At the top of the domestic vegan vitamin C foods are currants with 189 mg of vitamin C per 100 grams. A handful of currants can be enough to cover your daily requirement. The berries taste particularly delicious fresh in muesli or smoothie.
Are vitamin C tablets or capsules a vegan alternative?
Basically, dietary supplements are a sensible alternative if you do not get enough vitamin C through your regular diet or if you want to counteract an undersupply. However, you should definitely read the ingredients carefully: Even if the vitamin C contained in tablets and capsules comes from vegan sources, animal substances can still hide in supplements. Therefore, make sure that everything about a product is vegan before you buy it.