Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that helps make connective tissues that hold muscles, bones, and other bodily tissues together. Vitamin C is needed for wound healing, bone and teeth formation, iron absorption, and proper immune system functioning. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it cannot be stored in the body and needs to be consumed daily.

How much do I need?

  • 90 milligrams per day for adult men
  • 75 milligrams per day for adult women

For recommendations for infants, children, and teens, check out the chart in CSU Extension’s Fact Sheet: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C

Food sources

Citrus fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit) and their juices are great sources of vitamin C, which can also be found in kiwifruit, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, and tomatoes. One orange or 1/3 cup of chopped sweet red pepper gives enough vitamin C to fulfill the body’s needs for one day.

What happens if I don’t get enough?

Although rare in the United States, vitamin C deficiency can result in scurvy, loss of teeth, bleeding and swollen gums, or delayed wound healing. Since vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, inadequate amounts of vitamin C in the diet can lead to iron deficiencies as well, also known as a secondary deficiency. Vitamin C as a secondary deficiency is most common among the elderly and individuals who smoke or abuse alcohol.

Can I get too much?

As a water-soluble vitamin, our bodies are able to excrete most of the excess through our urine. However, overdoses are possible and can lead to kidney stones, diarrhea, and gout.

Did You Know?

Studies show that vitamin C supplements do not reduce your risk of getting a cold, although regularly taking vitamin C supplements may shorten colds and lead to milder symptoms.

To avoid harmful effects of too much vitamin C, make sure to stay under these limits:

Children 1-3 400 mg
Children 4-8 650 mg
Children 9-13 1,200 mg
Children 14-18 1,800 mg
Adults 2,000 mg