Vitamin C: More is Not Always Better!


Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin also known as ascorbic acid. Your body can not make Vitamin C so you must get it from foods. Vitamin C is important for our health for several reasons listed below!

  • Collagen synthesis: Vitamin C works to form collagen which aids in the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body (gums, teeth, tendons, bones, etc.)
  • Antioxidant: Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant, meaning it fights against free radicals in our bodies. Its antioxidant power can support our immune system in it’s job and helps reduce risk of cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
  • Neurotransmitter synthesis: Helps build norepinephrine and serotonin in our bodies which are key hormones.


FYI – RDA is the recommended daily amount and UL is the upper limit, intake, above which is not recommended.

Age/Life Stage Recommended Amount Upper Limit
Adult (19+) Women 75 mg 2000 mg
Adult (19+) Men 90 mg 2000 mg
Pregnant Women 85 mg 2000 mg
Breastfeeding Women 120 mg 2000 mg


Here are some common foods that contain Vitamin C. Note that there are many more other than this list!

Vitamin C Foods:

  • Citrus Fruits (and citrus fruit juices)
  • Veggies (bell peppers, broccoli, tomato, kale)
  • Other fruits (kiwi, strawberries, guava, papaya)
  • Fortified foods

With all the different ways you can get Vitamin C through foods, you should aim to get those nutrients by eating! However, there are situations where supplementation is useful, such as when dietary intake is lacking.

Vitamin C’s main form of supplementation is ascorbic acid but there are others out there. No form is better than another but you should consult with your medical team before using Vitamin C supplements.


Vitamin C Deficiency can cause:

Scurvey, which has symptoms of…

  • fatigue
  • Inflammation in the gums
  • small red/purple dots on skin
  • joint pain
  • poor wound healing
  • loss of teeth
  • anemia

Vitamin C Toxicity can cause:

  • diarrhea
  • nausea
  • stomach cramps
  • iron overload
  • damage to body tissue

Another note about toxicity from supplementation:

In the Environmental Nutrition newsletter it states, “Even Vitamin C which is water-soluble and is eliminated from the body when we take high amounts, can be harmful. At high levels, it can cause digestive issues including diarrhea and it’s also not safe…Before taking absolutely any supplement people should make sure that it’s not interacting with any of their medications or other supplements…”

This statement reaffirms my general feeling about supplements. More does not mean better! We should try to get Vitamin C through foods as much as possible.


Common Cold:

Vitamin C supplementation has been rumored by many to help with common colds. Studies have been conducted and research shows that in the general population, regular Vitamin C supplementation shortened duration and severity of colds by about 8% and had no effect on incidence.

Research has also shown that athletes/military personnel who take Vitamin C supplements, had a 50% reduced risk of developing upper respiratory infections. Read their study here! Their conclusion is that supplementation isn’t necessary for the general public, but might have a place for after bouts of extreme exercise.


Research has also been done recently regarding Vitamin C supplementation in COVID-19 patients. This research was conducted by The Journal of the American Medical Association and concluded that Vitamin C supplementation did not significantly reduce the duration of symptoms in COIVD-19 patients. Read that study here!

Bottom Line:

Vitamin C supplementation is not necessary for most people. Vitamin C deficiency is highly unlikely since it’s relatively easy to get what you need in small amounts of fruits or veggies.

If you want to try a vitamin C supplement, you do not need to take a large dose so be sure to read the labels! I recommend not taking more than 500mg a day on a short term basis.

If you choose to take supplements, be sure your medical team and pharmacist is guiding you and knows all of what you are taking to avoid toxicity or unwanted interactions between supplements and medications.

Eat your fruits and veggies!

– Julie

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