Vitamin C Supplements

Vitamin C tablets and oranges on table.

Vitamin C is also called ascorbic acid and ascorbate. This vitamin has many benefits. Vitamin C is an antioxidant. This means that it fights cell damage in your body. Damaged cells raise your risk for cancer and heart disease. Vitamin C may help you resist these diseases. But does it help cure the common cold? Probably not. So far, there is no evidence that taking vitamin C truly helps cure colds.

Suggested daily amount

The amount of vitamin C you need each day depends on your age, as well as other factors:

  • Adult men need 90 mg of vitamin C daily.

  • Adult women need 75 mg of vitamin C daily.

  • Women who are breastfeeding need 120 mg of vitamin C daily.

  • Smokers should add 35 mg more of vitamin C each day. 

 Talk with your healthcare provider to find the right amount of vitamin C for you.

Why use a supplement?

Most people get enough vitamin C from the foods they eat to meet the suggested daily amount. But some people need more than they’re likely to get from diet alone. This includes smokers and people under extreme stress. You might want to use a vitamin C supplement if any of the following is true for you:

  • I smoke or often breathe secondhand smoke.

  • I have a greater risk for heart disease or cancer.

  • I eat fewer than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily.

  • I do not eat citrus or other foods containing vitamin C on most days.

  • I am under a great deal of stress.

  • I am recovering from a serious burn or injury.

Food sources of vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in many fruits and vegetables. Good sources include:

  • Citrus fruits and juices (grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons)

  • Cranberry juice

  • Kiwis, strawberries, mangoes, papayas

  • Tomatoes, bell peppers, potatoes

  • Bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower

If you take vitamin C

Here are some tips to help you get the most from a vitamin C supplement:

  • Take no more than 500 mg at one time (or 1,000 mg per day).

  • Read the label to be sure the product won't expire soon.

  • Store supplements in a cool, dry place, away from sun and heat.

  • Eat a healthy diet to get all the nutrients your body needs.