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Vitamins & minerals health centre

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is important for healthy cells and tissue, and wound healing.

People who don’t get enough vitamin C can develop scurvy.

There's some evidence that vitamin C may help shorten the length of colds for some people.

Vitamin C food sources

Many people get enough vitamin C from their diets. All fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C and a healthy diet rich in fruit and vegetables should provide sufficient levels of vitamin C. Some food sources include:

  • Oranges and orange juice
  • Red and green peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Blackcurrants
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Potatoes

Vitamin C requirements

Adults need 40mg of vitamin C a day. The body can't store vitamin C, so it is needed in a person's daily diet.

Some people may be advised to take vitamin C supplements if they're not getting enough from diet alone.

Vitamin C supplement information

Vitamin C comes in tablets, capsules, chewables, and other forms. It is a standard ingredient in multivitamins. Doctors may sometimes give it by injection. As with any supplement, keep vitamin C supplements in a cool, dry place, away from humidity and direct sunlight.

Vitamin C warnings

  • Side-effects. Taking more than 1,000mg per day of vitamin C can cause stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence.
  • Interactions. If you take any other regular medication, ask your doctor if it is safe to take vitamin C. It can interact with medications such as aspirin, paracetamol, antacids and blood thinners, and also with some urine and blood tests for glucose, which are used to monitor diabetes. Nicotine may reduce the effects of vitamin C.
  • Risks. Women who are pregnant, or people with gout, liver disease, kidney disease, or other chronic diseases, should consult their doctor before using high doses of vitamin C supplements.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on June 26, 2017

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