QUESTION FOR KIDS: Can you tell if your food has vitamin C?

Learn about the components of your favorite everyday foods by testing them with this simple scientific experiment. One simple test is for the presence of vitamin C, which helps our bodies grow skin and tissue, heal wounds, and maintain healthy bones and teeth.

Materials for this activity:

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Follow this easy, step-by-step activity:

In this activity, kids will create testing solutions, follow detailed instructions to obtain results, record what they see, and make determinations for how much vitamin C is in their favorite food and drink.

  1. Determine which food(s) you want to test for vitamin C. If you pick a solid food, it will need to be ground up and mixed with water to make a solution that can be transported with a pipet. A simple pick for this experiment are various fruit juices.
  2. Make indophenol solution by combining less than 1/8 teaspoon of indophenol with 1 cup of water. Use the bottle to mix and store the solution.
  3. Put 15 drops of indophenol solution in a test tube for each food item you want to test.
  4. Add one of the foods you chose to the indophenol solution drop by drop with the pipet. Be careful not to mix different solutions! Use a different pipet for each one. Record how many drops it takes to turn the blue indophenol colorless.

Kitchen Chemistry

A few tips to help you out:

  • Safety equipment is needed around chemicals.
  • Chemicals need to be separated from food items. When experimenting, put all food items away and clean the area well. Also clean thoroughly after the experiment is complete.
  • The test tubes can be held upright in a glass, if needed.
  • Indophenol is an indicator that turns colorless in the presence of vitamin C. The fewer drops of juice or food solution you need for the color to change, the higher the vitamin C content.

Go Beyond the Activity

  • Make a hypothesis for which tested food will have more vitamin C and then experiment to see if you are right.
  • Test to see if the preservation process (canning, drying, or freezing) effects the amount of vitamin C.
  • Learn about other food tests. You can test food for sugar, starch, or fats!


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