Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. It is needed for normal growth and development.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. Leftover amounts of the vitamin leave the body through the urine. That means you need an ongoing supply of such vitamins in your diet.
Ascorbic acid; Dehydroascorbic acid
Vitamin C is needed for the growth and repair of tissues in all parts of your body. It is used to:
Form an important protein used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
Heal wounds and form scar tissue
Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth
Aid in the absorption of iron
Vitamin C is one of many antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that block some of the damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.
The buildup of free radicals over time is largely responsible for the aging process.
Free radicals may play a role in cancer, heart disease, and conditions like arthritis.
The body is not able to make vitamin C on its own, and it does not store vitamin C. It is therefore important to include plenty of vitamin C-containing foods in your daily diet.
For many years, vitamin C has been a popular remedy for the common cold.
Research shows that for most people, vitamin C supplements or vitamin C-rich foods do not reduce the risk of getting the common cold.
However, people who take vitamin C supplements regularly might have slightly shorter colds or somewhat milder symptoms.
Taking a vitamin C supplement after a cold starts does not appear to be helpful.
All fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C.
Fruits with the highest sources of vitamin C include:
Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange and grapefruit
Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cranberries
Vegetables with the highest sources of vitamin C include:
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower
Green and red peppers
Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
Sweet and white potatoes
Tomatoes and tomato juice
Some cereals and other foods and beverages are fortified with vitamin C. Fortified means a vitamin or mineral has been added to the food. Check the product labels to see how much vitamin C is in the product.
Cooking vitamin C-rich foods or storing them for a long period of time can reduce the vitamin C content. Microwaving and steaming vitamin C-rich foods may reduce cooking losses. The best food sources of vitamin C are uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables. Exposure to light can also reduce vitamin C content. Choose orange juice that is sold in a carton instead of a clear bottle.
Serious side effects from too much vitamin C are very rare, because the body cannot store the vitamin. However, amounts greater than 2,000 mg/day are not recommended. Doses this high can lead to stomach upset and diarrhea. Large doses of vitamin C supplementation are not recommended during pregnancy. They can lead to vitamin C deficiency in the baby after delivery.
Too little vitamin C can lead to signs and symptoms of deficiency, including:
Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. National Academy Press. Washington, DC, 2000. PMID 25077263 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25077263.