Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and an antioxidant which helps make connective tissues that hold muscles, bones, and other bodily tissues together. Vitamin C is needed for wound healing, bone and teeth formation, iron absorption, and proper immune system functioning. Since it is a water-soluble vitamin, it cannot be stored in the body and needs to be consumed daily.

How much do I need?

  • 90 milligrams per day for adult men
  • 75 milligrams per day for adult women
  • For recommendations for infants, children, and teens, check out the chart in CSU Extension’s Fact Sheet: Water-Soluble Vitamins: B-Complex and Vitamin C.

Food sources

Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit as well as their juices are great sources of vitamin C. Besides citrus fruits, vitamin C can be found in kiwifruit, red and green bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, baked potatoes, and tomatoes. One orange or 1/3 cup of chopped sweet red pepper gives enough vitamin C to fulfill the body’s needs for one day.

What happens if I don’t get enough?

Although rare in the United States, cases of vitamin C deficiency can result in scurvy, loss of teeth, bleeding and swollen gums, or delayed wound healing. Since vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, inadequate amounts of vitamin C in the diet can lead to iron deficiencies as well, also known as a secondary deficiency. Vitamin C as a secondary deficiency is most common among the elderly and individuals who smoke or abuse alcohol.

Can I get too much?

As a water-soluble vitamin, our bodies are able to excrete most of the excess through our urine. However, overdoses are possible and can lead to kidney stones, diarrhea, and gout.