And what's the best way to work it into your diet?

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Credit: Getty / Natalia Ganelin

Vitamin C can be found in many of the foods you're already eating, citrus fruits (orange juice, included!) and even tomatoes. But how much of this vitamin do you actually need in order to maintain optimal health? According to two medical professionals, the answer is less than you'd think—and they say the best way to get it is through a healthy diet (not through supplements). Ahead, everything you need to know about vitamin C.

How much vitamin C do you really need?

Andrea Luttrell, RDN, LDN, and a registered dietitian and nutritionist at Big Y World Class Markets, says the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. Since fruits and vegetables provide an abundant source of vitamin C, it's easy to exceed daily recommendations just by enjoying a variety of produce. "For example, individuals who eat five servings of fruits and vegetables can benefit from over 200 milligrams of vitamin C—more than double what most of us require," she explains. This is good news, since Luttrell says the best way to get your daily dose of C is through food.

Which foods are high in vitamin C?

You can find vitamin C in a lot of foods. "One cup of broccoli contains 40mg of vitamin C, while one cup of red bell peppers contains 115mg," explains Julie Hefner, a holistic nutritionist. "An average size orange contains 69mg, while a cup of sliced strawberries contains 96mg." One fruit salad will more than meet the daily recommended goal of vitamin C consumption.

To get the most out of the vitamin C-rich foods you eat, Luttrell suggests making sure you're pairing them with the right things. "An expert tip is that foods rich in vitamin C help you absorb iron, so pair these foods together for even greater benefit," she says. "Grilling up a sirloin? Pair it with sliced peppers and onions for a nutrient boost."

Who could benefit from more vitamin C?

If you are pregnant or suffer from certain health conditions, your doctor may have already told you that you need to increase your vitamin C intake. "Individuals with malabsorption or certain chronic health conditions, such as cancer or end-stage renal disease, may also need to monitor vitamin C intake more carefully," Luttrell says.

Can you ever have too much?

You don't have to worry about getting too much of a good thing. Since the essential nutrient is water-soluble, you won't overdo it. "The body is naturally able to flush out excess amounts," Luttrell explains. "Therefore, risk is relatively low for getting too much through food or supplements." In fact, she says that the current upper limit for vitamin C is set at 2,000 milligrams per day for men and women—which is good, because vitamin C is full of benefits. "Vitamin C plays numerous roles in the body and is important for things such as promoting immune health, reducing oxidative stress, and even wound healing," she says. "Most notably, vitamin C has been studied for four main areas—cancer prevention and treatment; cardiovascular disease; age-related macular degeneration and cataracts; as well as preventing and treating the common cold."

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