Vitamin C

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Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant found in some foods. This vitamin plays a key role in helping your cells avoid free radical related damage which can lead to an assortment of serious health issues. Vitamin C is necessary to produce collagen which plays a role in wound healing and also supports immune system function. This vitamin also helps your body absorb the iron present in foods that you eat.

Populations at risk for vitamin C deficiency include those who smoke or live in an environment where secondhand smoke is frequently present. Smokers require an average of 35 mg more of vitamin C daily than those who do not smoke. Newborns who are fed evaporated or boiled cow's milk, people on strict diets, those experiencing malabsorption, people diagnosed with some varieties of cancer, and people with kidney disease may be at risk of deficiency, though deficiency is not common in the United States and Canada. Scurvy, a condition which results in tiredness, inflammation of the gums, red spots on the skin, joint issues, and poor wound healing, may occur as a result of vitamin C deficiency.

Also known as:  Acide Ascorbique, Acide Cévitamique, Acide Iso-Ascorbique, Acide L-Ascorbique, Acido Ascorbico, Antiscorbutic Vitamin, Ascorbate, Ascorbate de Calcium, Ascorbate de Sodium, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Calcium Ascorbate, Cevitamic Acid, Iso-Ascorbic Acid, L-Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Ascorbate, Palmitate d'Ascorbyl, Selenium Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamina C, Vitamine Antiscorbutique, Vitamine C

Diseases and Conditions

Vitamin C is effective for the following conditions:

  •  Vitamin C deficiency

Vitamin C is likely effective for the following conditions:

  • Iron absorption
  • Tyrosinemia for premature infants on high protein diets
  • Age-related macular degeneration
  • Albuminuria
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Bowel preparation
  • Common cold
  • Erythema
  • Exercise-induced respiratory infections
  • Gout
  • H. pylori infection
  • Hemolytic anemia
  • Lead toxicity
  • Nitrate tolerance
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physical performance
  • Sunburn
  • Wrinkled skin

Vitamin C is likely ineffective for the following conditions:

  • Acute bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Bladder cancer
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Fractures
  • Interferon-related retinopathy
  • Leukemia
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Overall mortality
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Pre-eclampsia
  • Pregnancy-related complications
  • Prostate cancer
  • Radiation dermatitis

There is insufficient information to rate the effectiveness of vitamin C for the following conditions:

  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Aspirin-associated liver damage
  • Atopic disease
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism
  • Breast cancer
  • Burns
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac allograft vasculopathy
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Cataracts
  • Cervical cancer
  • Chemotherapy toxicity
  • Chronic radiation proctitis
  • Complex regional pain syndrome
  • Contrast-mediated nephropathy
  • Dental plaque
  • Depression
  • Diabetes
  • Doxorubicin-induced cardiac toxicity
  • Endometrial cancer
  • Exercise-induced asthma
  • Gallbladder disease
  • Gastric cancer
  • HIV transmission
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Hyperphosphatemia
  • Infertility
  • Mental stress
  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis
  • Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Osteoporosis
  • Oral cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Postoperative pain
  • Pneumonia
  • Premature rupture of membranes
  • Pressure ulcers
  • Restless legs syndrome
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Stroke
  • Tetanus
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Vascular dementia


Vitamin C is likely safe when used orally, topically, intramuscularly, or intravenously and appropriately. Vitamin C is safe for oral consumption at doses below the tolerable upper intake level of 2,000 mg daily. Injectable vitamin C has been approved by the FDA as a prescription product. It is possibly unsafe to take vitamin C orally in doses over 2,000 mg per day. It is likely safe for children, pregnant, and breastfeeding women to use vitamin c orally and appropriately, under the supervision of a phyisician. Adverse effects of vitamin C are dose-related as taking high doses may lead to the following side effects:

  • Osmotic diarrhea
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Precipitation of urate
  • Oxalate
  • Cysteine stones or drugs in the urinary tract
  • Deep vein thrombosis
  • Cardiovascular mortality
  • Carotid inner wall thickening

Other possible side effects may include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Esophagitis
  • Heartburn
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction
  • Fatigue
  • Flushing
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Sleepiness
  • Diarrhea

Medication Interactions

Vitamin C may interfere with the following medications:

  • Acetaminophen
  • Aluminum
  • Aspirin
  • Chemotherapy
  • Choline magnesium trisalicylate
  • Estrogens
  • Fluphenazine
  • Statin drugs including lovastatin (Mevacor), pravastatin (Pravachol), fluvastatin (Lescol), and atorvastatin (Lipitor)
  • Niacin
  • Nicardipine
  • Nifedipine
  • Pentobarbital
  • Protease inhibitors such as amprenavir (Agenerase), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), or saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase)
  • Salsalate
  • Warfarin (Coumadin).

Supplement and Food Interactions

Vitamin C may interact with the following supplements, herbs, and foods:

  • Acerola
  • Cherokee rosehip
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Grape
  • Iron
  • Rosehip
  • Vitamin B12


The daily recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for vitamin C are:

  • 90 mg for men
  • 75 mg for women age 19 and older
  • Pregnancy and lactation (woman ages 19 to 50 years) 120 mg

People who use tobacco should take an additional 35 mg of vitamin C per day. The tolerable upper intake levels (UL) of vitamin C are 2000 mg per day for adults and pregnant and lactating women.


Vitamin C can be found in a variety of foods including:

  • Strawberries (85 mg vitamin C per cup of strawberries)
  • Pineapple (79 mg of vitamin C per cup of pineapple)
  • Kholrabi (84 mg of vitamin C per cup of kholrabi)
  • Mango (122 mg of vitamin C per mango)
  • Brussels sprouts (75 mg of vitamin C per cup of brussels sprouts)
  • Kiwis (128 mg of vitamin C per two kiwis)
  • Papaya (95 mg per papaya)
  • Bell Peppers (95-341 mg of vitamin C per bell pepper - amount varies by color of pepper)
  • Broccoli (81 mg of vitamin C per cup of broccoli)

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