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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): foods, benefits & RDA

Siski Green / 15 February 2022

Vitamin C is not stored in the body and is destroyed when food is stored so it is important to eat fresh fruit and vegetables.

Glass of orange juice and segments of oranges on a table
Fresh oranges are a good source of vitamin C

One of the more commonly recognised vitamins – most people know that citrus fruits are good sources, for example – vitamin C is another one that requires regular intake as the body can’t store it for future use.

What is vitamin C used for and does it really work?

Vitamin C is probably best known for helping to prevent colds, but it’s generally good for keeping your immune system in good shape. In fact, studies have failed to show that upping your intake of vitamin C will stop you getting a cold while some have demonstrated that taking extra may help reduce the duration of colds. It’s also instrumental in helping the body heal from injury. It’s good for your eyes too and helps prevent cataracts. And, as with other vitamins, it’s a powerful antioxidant so helps prevent cancer too.What’s the best way to take vitamin C?

What’s the best way to take vitamin C?

Many fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of vitamin C. Beyond citrus fruits, kiwi fruit and berries such as a strawberries and blackcurrants are also excellent sources. Among vegetables the best sources include sweet peppers and tomatoes, but brussels sprouts, broccoli and potatoes are also good sources – if you eat the skin of the potato too.

As vitamin C levels in fruit and vegetables can fall over time as foods aren’t so fresh it’s important to try and eat as fresh as possible. Cooking also destroys some vitamin C – the water vegetables are cooked in, for example, will absorb much of the vitamin C so unless you’re eating veggies in a soup, you’ll lose some of the goodness.

The recommend intake is 75-90 mg per day with a maximum recommended daily intake of 1000mg.

Where can I get vitamin C?

Aside from fruits and vegetables, vitamin C is available in a wide range of forms. Chewable tablets, capsules, sachets and effervescent tablets, for example.

What are the side effects or contraindications of taking vitamin C?

If you ingest too much vitamin C you might suffer gastrointestinal discomfort and even diarrhoea. You should avoid taking vitamin C supplements if you have any kind of kidney disorder – see your GP first.

Want to talk to a GP today? With Saga Health Insurance, you have unlimited access to a qualified GP 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Find out more about our GP phone service.


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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.