Beat cold and flu season with these vitamin C rich foods

8 foods packed with vitamin c for runners

Runny nose, sore throat? Sounds like you need a dose of vitamin C. But before you reach for an orange, consider these vitamin C facts.

Related: Should I run when I've got a cold? 

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an essential vitamin that comes with a wealth of health benefits. ‘Vitamin C is essential for good immune function. It also plays an important role in chemical signalling to the brain and tissue repair,’ says Sophie Medlin, registered dietitian and owner at City Dietitians.

‘It has excellent antioxidant properties which means that it helps to control some of the consequences of tissue damage and unhealthy lifestyle choices like drinking and smoking.’

Related: How to stop a cold affecting your training 

8 foods rich in vitamin C

Vitamin C is mostly found in fruit and veg – and oranges are a great source. What might surprise you, however, is that there are plenty of foods that actually contain morevitamin C than an orange. 

1. Kale

2. Potatoes 

3. Strawberries

4. Broccoli 

5. Red peppers 

6. Pineapple 

7. Brussel Sprouts 

8. Blueberries 

8 foods packed with vitamin c for runners

Should runners take vitamin C supplements?

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. ‘Most fruit and vegetables contain plenty of vitamin C so as long as you are getting your 5-a-day, you don’t need to supplement,’ says Medlin.

‘If you’re not eating much fruit and veg or if you are coming down with a cold you may want to consider a supplement,' she adds. 'There is also evidence to show that smokers have lower vitamin C levels in their blood than non-smokers, so if you smoke you may wish to take a supplement more regularly.'

Related: Should runners be ditching all supplements but this? 

How much vitamin C should runners get each day?

If you do take vitamin C supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful. ‘Too much vitamin C generally causes stomach upsets, headaches, sleeping problems and flushing of the skin. For this reason, high doses are not recommended,’ says Medlin. ‘But taking less than 1,000mg of vitamin C supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.’

‘A 250-500mg capsule or effervescent tablet once per day if you feel a cold coming on will be plenty for most people,’ says Medlin. ‘You can buy very high strength vitamin C supplements. However, you will lose most of this in your urine and you can cause yourself problems if you take too much. Otherwise the best source is always fruit and veg!’

A version of this article appeared on Net Doctor.