Benefits of Vitamin C for Children

Published May 5, 2017

Consuming adequate vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is important for children. It plays a number of important roles in the body, acting as an antioxidant and immune supporter, helping build the protein collagen and enhancing the absorption of iron in the body.

Antioxidant effects:

In the body, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed from normal body processes as well as from exposure to potentially harmful substances such as cigarette smoke, ultraviolet radiation and air pollution. Vitamin C also helps to regenerate the antioxidant vitamin E.

Immune support:

Vitamin C is required for normal immune function. It helps maintain immune responses and may play a role in the management of upper respiratory tract infections. When taken regularly, vitamin C may reduce the duration and severity of colds and help relieve cold symptoms.

Collagen and wound healing:

The body needs vitamin C to form and strengthen collagen in bones, cartilage, muscles and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps with the healing of minor wounds and helps your child’s teeth and gums stay healthy.

Iron absorption:

Vitamin C improves the absorption of iron from the food you eat. This is especially beneficial for kids as their rapid growth imposes high iron requirements.

How much vitamin C does my child need?

The recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C for kids is as follows:

  • Ages 1‐8: 35mg/day
  • Ages 9‐18: 40mg/day

How can I ensure they have enough?

Vitamin C is a water‐soluble nutrient which means whatever is not used in the body on a daily basis is excreted. Vitamin C therefore cannot be stored in the body and must be replenished on a regular basis. Luckily, vitamin C can be found in numerous foods particularly brightly coloured fruits and vegetables. You can help your child reach their daily vitamin C needs by encouraging consumption of the following foods:

Citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit, and their juices. One medium orange provides 70mg of vitamin C, double the recommended daily intake for a child between the ages of one and eight.

  • Red and green capsicum ‐ Half a cup of raw red capsicum contains about 95mg of vitamin C and is possibly the highest source.
  • Kiwifruit ‐ one medium kiwifruit provides approximately 65mg of vitamin C.
  • Broccoli – 1⁄2 cup of cooked broccoli contains 51mg of vitamin C, 2 more than a child between the ages of nine and 18 needs to meet their day to day body functions.
  • Strawberries – 1⁄2 cup sliced fresh strawberries contains about 50mg of vitamin C 2 and can help kids reach their daily requirements.
  • Tomato – 1 medium tomato provides about 17mg of vitamin C.
  • Brussels sprouts – 1⁄2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts provides about 48mg of vitamin C.
  • Rockmelon (cantaloupe) – 1⁄2 cup of rockmelon contains about 29mg of vitamin C.

The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and cooking as it’s easily destroyed by heat. You should therefore encourage consumption of raw fruits and veggies where possible or lightly steam veggies. Don’t worry if your child is having more than required, as any excess vitamin C that isn’t used up by the body is excreted. Picky eaters who don’t eat a lot of fruits or vegetables may need a vitamin C supplement to top up their daily intake.

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