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Everything You Should Know About Vitamin C for Kids

Learn about vitamin C for kids, including how much is needed and where to find it from food.

Winter is a great time of year to write a post about vitamin C and vitamin C foods for kids.

As I write and fight my ‘going on 3 week’ winter cold (which has turned into a sinus infection…why do these illnesses hit at the most busy time of the year?!), I am reassessing the amount of Vitamin C I get in my diet.

Not only is this vitamin important for me, it’s important for my children, too.  

For many of us, Vitamin C is associated with preventing illness and boosting immunity.  

I can’t tell you how many times I hear people saying, “Take Vitamin C for that cold!”

But this nutrient has other important roles within the body.

It helps with the absorption of iron from foods, acting as a protector to cells, protects the body from bruising, helps heal wounds and keeps your gums healthy, and produces collagen (the connective tissue that holds everything together).

Vitamin C should be consumed daily, as it is water-soluble and not stored by the body.

Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C.

How Much Vitamin C do Kids and Toddlers Need?

The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) provides the following guidelines:

  • 0-6 months: 40 mg/day
  • 7-12 months: 50 mg/day
  • 1-3 years: 15 mg/day
  • 4-8 years: 25 mg/day
  • 9-13 years: 45 mg/day
  • 14-18 year males: 75 mg/day
  • 14-18 year females: 65 mg/day

Large doses of Vitamin C, although not usually toxic because it’s water-soluble, can cause some unpleasant side effects such as stomach upset, diarrhea, and kidney stones.

Can Vitamin C Be Toxic for Children?

Vitamin and mineral supplements should always be used with caution, particularly with children.

The safe upper limit for vitamin C in children varies by age and is lower than that recommended for adults (2000 mg/day).

Take caution when supplementing Vitamin C in children and avoid exceeding these limits:  

  • 1-3 years:  400 mg/day
  • 4-8 years:  650 mg/day
  • 9-13 years: 1200 mg/day
  • 14-18 years: 1800 mg/day

The upper limit of Vitamin C in infants less than a year is undetermined.

Vitamin C Foods for Kids

Many people know that Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits.  

It is also found in many other foods that can add additional vitamins, nutrients, and fiber to your child’s diet.

Broccoli actually has more vitamin C than grapefruit. 

Red peppers, berries, melons, potatoes, papaya, guava, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables are also great choices.

Ascorbic Acid Aids Absorption of Iron and Other Nutrients

Pairing vitamin C foods with other foods containing iron and folate, helps little bodies absorb them better. 

This is good news, considering iron is the most common nutrient deficiency among children.

Parents should be aware of other sources of Vitamin C, such as beverages fortified with vitamins. Some of these drinks may not be appropriate for little ones, due to fortification.

The best way to ensure adequate vitamin C for kids is to get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. 

Choosing natural whole food sources over fortified foods and beverages is best.

Vitamin C foods for kids

17 of the Best Vitamin C Foods for Kids

The following items are some of the richest vitamin C foods you can offer your child:

  • citrus fruits such as oranges, clementine, grapefruit, lemon, and lime
  • bell peppers
  • papaya
  • kiwi fruit
  • strawberries
  • broccoli
  • cantaloupe
  • guava
  • tomatoes
  • Brussel sprouts
  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • white potatoes

Vitamin C Foods for Babies

Babies who are breastfed and bottle-fed in the first 6 months will obtain their vitamin C from this source.

After 6 months, when solid foods begin, vitamin C will start to come from the foods you offer.

Fruits and vegetables will help your baby get enough vitamin C in their diet and reap the benefits.

Some babies may have a hard time with citrus and acidic foods, so stick with milder forms of vitamin C foods, like cauliflower, potatoes or broccoli in the beginning.

Always modify the foods you offer your baby to match their eating skills!

Nutrients for Kids, Advanced Guide

Need More Help with Nutrients for Children?

Learn more about:

Vitamin A

Vitamin D

The B Complex vitamins





And check out our booklets, workshops and classes for more help, especially our guide, The 7 Essential Nutrients for Kids.

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