Vitamins & Supplements

The Ultimate Guide to Vitamin C

Vitabiotics | Published: 18/03/2024

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a vitamin that our body requires every day. There are several benefits of vitamin C and it plays many important roles in our body.

Although there are various foods high in vitamin C, a vitamin C supplement can help safeguard your intake of this essential nutrient.

Here, we delve into the vitamin C benefits, the best vitamin C foods and how much vitamin C we need per day to stay healthy.

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin needed for good health. It’s also known as ascorbic acid. Because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, our body doesn’t store it, so therefore we need to ensure we’re getting enough vitamin C every day.

What are the benefits of vitamin C?

There are many benefits of vitamin C, which is why we need to ensure we’re getting enough through our diet or supplementation.

Vitamin C Benefits: Immune System Support

Many of us will know that one of the biggest benefits of vitamin C is that it helps maintain a healthy immune system, in both adults and children. It also plays another important role in supporting our wellbeing by helping to reduce oxidative stress.

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Vitamin C Benefits: Supports The Nervous System

Our nervous system, made up of the brain, spinal cord and nerves, carries messages between the brain and rest of the body. One of the benefits of vitamin C is that it contributes to the normal functioning of the nervous system, to help it work normally.

Vitamin C Benefits: Skin Health

We also need vitamin C for skin health. This is because Vitamin C contributes to normal collagen formation. Collagen is a structural protein that makes up a large portion of our skin, bones, teeth, gums, blood vessels and cartilage.

Vitamin C Benefits: Helps with Iron Absorption

You may be surprised to read that vitamin C also helps us to absorb iron. Iron is an essential mineral needed in our body to support the normal transportation of oxygen to all cells and organs. Certain foods and drinks containing tannins can reduce our ability to absorb iron, by binding to it and carrying it out of the body.

However, vitamin C actually increases non-haem (plant-based) iron absorption whilst also helping us absorb iron from our food and/or supplements. Drinking orange juice with your iron supplement for example can help the iron to absorb more efficiently in the body.

Vitamin C Benefits: Reduces Tiredness

Similar to the B vitamins, vitamin C also helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue. Vitamin C is involved in the process of creating carnitine, a compound that helps to transport fatty acids into our cells, where they can be burned for energy.

How much vitamin C per day is needed?

As vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, it cannot be stored in the body, so we need to ensure we’re getting enough every day.The NHS says that adults aged 19 to 64 years old should get 40mg of vitamin C every day. However, the Nutrient Reference Value (NRV) is 80mg.

There are some experts who believe that higher intakes of vitamin C can be beneficial at certain times.

How much vitamin C per day for a woman

The UK Department of Health recommends that women consume 40mg of vitamin C per day. This increases to 50mg per day for pregnant women.

How much vitamin C per day for a man

The recommended amount of vitamin C per day for men is the same for women, at 40mg per day, according to The UK Department of Health.

How much vitamin C per day for kids

The recommended vitamin C intake for children varies by age:

  • Ages 1-10 require 30mg
  • Ages 11-14 require 35mg
  • Ages 15-18 require 40mg

Vitamin C is such an important nutrient for kids that the NHS recommends that all children from six months up to five years are given vitamin supplements containing vitamins A, vitamin C and vitamin D every day (unless they are drinking 500ml or more of formula a day in which case extra supplements are not needed as formula will include these vitamins).

Can you have too much vitamin C?

Yes, you can have too much vitamin C. The Department of Health and Social Care says that more than 1000mg of vitamin C per day is classed as a large amount whereas less than 1000mg of vitamin C per day is unlikely to cause any harm. Having too much vitamin C can lead to mild gastrointestinal problems including stomach pains, flatulence and diarrhoea.

You can avoid having too much vitamin C by ensuring you stick to the recommended dose of your vitamin C supplement. It’s also a good idea to take your vitamin C supplement with a meal.

Sources of vitamin C

There are many sources of vitamin C, including several delicious foods. Many of us will associate citrus fruits such as oranges with being a vitamin C-rich fruit, however several other foods - primarily fruits and vegetables including strawberries, kiwi, tomato and brocoli, - also contain vitamin C. Animal-based foods such as liver and kidney can also contain vitamin C, however these tend to not contain as much vitamin C as fruits and vegetables.

Often, the amount of vitamin C in food will vary depending on how the food is cooked so keep this in mind when consuming vitamin C foods. For example it is best to avoid overcooking vegetables, trying steaming broccoli and carrots rather than boiling them

A vitamin C supplement also provides a good source of vitamin C. Supplements can be taken in various forms including vitamin C gummies, capsules and effervescents.

How much vitamin C is in an orange?

Oranges and orange juice contain high levels of vitamin C. Oranges contain 53mg per 100g, whilst orange juice contains 50mg per 100g. Look for orange juice with zero added sugar.

Fruits high in vitamin C

There are several other delicious fruits that contain good levels of vitamin C. Below are some fruits with vitamin C which can be incorporated into your daily diet to help ensure you’re getting enough of this essential vitamin.

  • Guavas per 100g 228mg
  • Dried chives per 100g- 660mg
  • Kiwi per 100g - 93mg
  • Bell peppers per 100g -128mg
  • Strawberries per 100g - 59mg
  • Orange per 100g - 53mg
  • Papaya per 100g - 61mg
  • Blackcurrants per 100g - 181mg
  • Florida grapefruit per 100g- 37mg
  • Dried goji berries per 100g - 48.4mg
  • Orange juice per 100g- 50mg

Vegetables that are high in vitamin C

There are also several tasty and nutritious vegetables that contain good levels of vitamin C, to help support our overall health. These can be added into your daily diet…

  • Broccoli per 100g - 89mg
  • Brussels sprouts cooked per 100g- 62mg
  • Kale per 100g- 18mg
  • Garlic per 100g- 31.2mg
  • Cauliflower per 100g- 48.2mg

Boosting vitamin C intake with supplements

Taking a vitamin C supplement can help safeguard your intake of vitamin C, to ensure your body is reaping the benefits that vitamin C provides.

There are various different types of vitamin C supplements including vitamin C gummies, drinks, vitamin C effervescent tablets or tablets with vitamin C, so you can be sure that you will find a vitamin C supplement to suit you. Children may prefer to take a vitamin C gummy for ease whilst those who struggle with capsules may prefer to take a vitamin C effervescent tablet which dissolves in liquid to make a refreshing vitamin C-rich drink.

Vitamin C is a vitamin that everybody needs to ensure they are getting enough of. The health of both adults and children will benefit from vitamin C and luckily there are several sources including many fruits and vegetables, and a range of Vitabiotics vitamin C supplements to safeguard your intake.

Meet the Author

lucy gornall


lucy gornall


Lucy is an award winning freelance health, fitness and wellbeing journalist and copywriter. She is also a personal trainer, teaching at London based studios. With 10 years of journalistic experience under her belt, Lucy was formerly a health editor across various women’s magazines and also editor for a national women’s glossy title. She now writes for various publications whilst also working on various branded content

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