Vitamin C

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body. As a result, humans must eat sufficient amounts of vitamin C every day.

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How does the body use vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that aids the immune system and helps prevent cellular damage caused by exposure to toxins. It is also used to create collagen, which is used to heal wounds and maintain healthy skin, gums, bones, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb and store iron.

How much vitamin C do I need?

Category Adequate Intake (mg)
Men 90†
Women 75
Pregnant women 85
Lactating women 120
Source: National Institutes of Health1
† Recommended daily value on new Nutrition Facts labels

Smokers should add an extra 35 mg per day to these numbers since vitamin C is used to fight the toxins in tobacco smoke.

Are you getting enough vitamin C? Keep a food diary and find out. Track vitamin C!

Which foods are high in vitamin C?

Example Serving Size RDA 
Sweet Red Peppers 1 cup 472%
Strawberries 1 cup 163%
Broccoli 1 cup 132%
Navel Orange 1 orange 130%
Grapefruit 1 fruit 128%
Mango 1 cup 100%
Cantaloupe 1 cup 98%
Red Tomatoes 1 cup 38%
Potatoes 1 potato 28%
Acorn Squash 1 cup 27%

What is vitamin C deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency is called scurvy — once a common and fatal disease among sailors who were unable to eat fresh fruits and vegetables for long periods. Risk factors include alcoholism, poverty, fad dieting, anorexia nervosa, illicit drug use, and intestinal disorders.2 The first signs of scurvy are skin rashes and bleeding gums.

What is Vitamin C toxicity?

Toxicity is rare since the body can easily remove water-soluble vitamins like vitamin C. However, vitamin C toxicity can occur in individuals ingesting more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, which can lead to kidney stones and occasional diarrhea.

Additional Resources

  1. Vitamin C. National Institutes of Health.
  2. Leger, D. (Oct 2008). Scurvy: Reemergence of nutritional deficiencies. Canadian Family Physician, 54(10): 1403–1406.

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