Everything you need to know about vitamin C
  /   Dahlia Rimmon MS, RDN

Everything you need to know about vitamin C

When you think of vitamin C, you might imagine a tall, cold glass of orange juice alongside your bowl of breakfast cereal. Sure, oranges are bursting with vitamin C, but there's plenty more to learn about this super nutrient, especially for kids. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin our bodies need for proper growth and development. Since our bodies can't make vitamin C on their own, eating foods high in vitamin C helps us meet our daily needs. From boosting the immune system to keeping skin healthy, let's dive into everything you need to know about vitamin C for kids. 

Benefits of vitamin C

Vitamin C supports many functions in your little one’s growing body. Here are just a handful of them:

Collagen synthesis

Vitamin C plays an essential role in the production of collagen, a structural protein our body needs for connective tissues, bones, skin, cartilage, and wound healing. And with kids growing like weeds (seriously, new shoes again?), collagen becomes even more crucial, especially during those growth spurts or the turbulent puberty years.

Disease prevention

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that keeps us healthy by fighting off those pesky free radicals and preventing disease. 

Iron absorption

Vitamin C promotes absorption of non-heme iron (plant-based sources of iron), which is particularly helpful for fussy eaters or children following a plant-based diet, who may be more susceptible to iron deficiency. When you're serving iron-rich foods, consider pairing them with foods high in vitamin C. Think about serving refried beans (iron) with a side of salsa (vitamin C), or baked tofu nuggets (iron) alongside a zesty marinara sauce (vitamin C).

Immune support 

Vitamin C produces cells for the immune system to fight various types of infections. But despite common belief, vitamin C doesn’t actually prevent colds. New research suggests that vitamin C may shorten the duration of a cold – but only if you're already getting plenty of vitamin C from your diet. So if your kiddo comes home from school with a cold, chugging orange juice won't necessarily speed up their recovery.

Foods with vitamin C

When it comes to getting your daily dose of vitamin C, fruits and veggies are your best bet. Here are a few of our favorites:

  • Orange
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Tomato
  • Strawberries
  • Bell pepper
  • Broccoli
  • Potato
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe 
  • Spinach 
  • Mango
  • Pineapple
  • Cauliflower 

Vitamin C and cooking

Vitamin C is a temperature-sensitive vitamin, and some of it can be lost in high-temperature cooking like boiling. When you’re whipping out broccoli for dinner, consider giving it a light steam, quick stir-fry, or blanche to preserve all those valuable nutrients.

How much vitamin C do kids need?

Here are the daily Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) of vitamin C for kids. These are the minimum amounts kids need each day based on age:

  • Toddlers 1 to 3 years: 15 mg 
  • Young kids 4 to 8 years: 25 mg
  • Older kids 9 to 13 years: 45 mg 


Kids can easily get their fill of vitamin C because foods high in vitamin C have a ton of it. For example, if your 2-year-old sips just 1 ounce (that’s about 1/8 cup) of freshly squeezed orange juice with breakfast (15.5 mg), they've already met their daily needs. And if your 5-year-old asks for a cup of mango at snack time (that’s about 60 mg), they're more than doubling their vitamin C requirement for the day. So, in most cases, kids will get all the vitamin C they need from their food.

Picky eating and vitamin C

With the best vitamin C foods being fruits and veggies, it’s a real hurdle for picky eaters to meet their daily needs. Trying to get them to even nibble on something green or fruity can feel like an uphill battle.


If you're deep in the picky eating phase, a multivitamin can help your kids fill in those nutritional gaps. Hiya’s Kids Daily Multivitamin is the perfect solution. It’s loaded with 15 essential vitamins and minerals and a blend of 12 organic fruits and vegetables to ensure your kiddo gets the nutrients they need for growth and development. Plus, it provides 40 mg of vitamin C, meeting the needs of toddlers and young kids and falling only 5 mg shy for older children.

Recipes with vitamin C 

Another hack to squeeze in more vitamin C is to prepare tasty recipes packed with vitamin C ingredients. Here are some of our favorite recipes that even the fussiest eaters won’t be able to turn down:



Practical tips

We all know that when it comes to feeding kids, it’s easier said than done. But don't worry, we've got your back. Here are some simple tips to get more vitamin C into your kids' diet:


  • Don’t push it: Kids are smart –if they sense you're pushing a specific food, they'll dodge it like the plague.
  • Exposure is key: Make sure your kids have plenty of opportunities to snack on these nutritious foods. Keep it simple by adding two or three vitamin C-rich foods in their meals and snacks every week. 
  • Beat food boredom: Keep things interesting by switching up the weekly lineup. For example, focus on strawberries and bell peppers one week, and switch to broccoli and grapefruit the following week. 

Get creative: Find clever ways of adding vitamin C to their foods like blending bell peppers into their favorite pasta sauce or cooking cauliflower rice into a pot of jasmine rice.