Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Acting as an antioxidant in the body
- Playing a major role in collagen formation
- Aiding in amino acid metabolism and hormone synthesis
- Assisting in the synthesis of a neurotransmitter, norepinephrine
- Helping break down cholesterol and synthesize bile
- Playing a role in the absorption, metabolism, and utilization of other nutrients, such as folate, calcium, and iron
- Promoting healing of wounds and burns
|Age Group (in years)||
Recommended Dietary Allowance
(mg/day) [miligrams per day]
Vitamin C Deficiency
- Bleeding gums
- Easy bruising
- Impaired wound and fracture healing
- Joint pain and swelling
- Loose and decaying teeth
- Hair loss
- Bone fragility
Vitamin C Toxicity
- Ages 1-3: 400 mg/day
- Ages 4-8: 650 mg/day
- Ages 9-13: 1,200 mg/day
- Ages 14-18: 1,800 mg/day
- Ages 19+: 2,000 mg/day
- Abdominal cramps
- Formation of kidney stones in susceptible people
Major Food Sources
Vitamin C content
|Broccoli, cooked||½ cup||51|
|Pepper, red, raw||½ cup||95|
|Broccoli, cooked||½ cup||51|
|Tomato juice||¾ cup||33|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||½ cup||48|
|Orange juice||¾ cup||62-93|
|Cabbage, cooked||½ cup||28|
|Tomato, raw||1 medium||17|
|Green peas, frozen, cooked||½ cup||8|
|Grapefruit juice||¾ cup||62-70|
|Spinach, cooked||½ cup||9|
|Green pepper, sweet, raw||½ cup||60|
|Potato, baked with skin||1 medium||17|
|Cauliflower, raw||½ cup||26|
|Snow peas, frozen, cooked||½ cup||20|
Populations at Risk for Vitamin C Deficiency
- People who smoke cigarettes—Due to an increased metabolic turnover of vitamin C, smokers have lower blood vitamin C levels. It is recommended that smokers take 35 mg more per day than the applicable RDA.
- People who drink excessive amounts of alcohol—This may, in part, be due to a nutritionally inadequate diet.
- The elderly—Studies have shown that older adults have lower levels of serum vitamin C. This may be due to a diet lacking in essential nutrients.
- Infants—Feeding babies evaporated or boiled milk can cause vitamin C deficiency. This is because heat can destroy the vitamin C found in cow's milk.
- People with limited variety in their diet—Indigent individuals who prepare their own food; food faddists; and people with mental illness may not be able to prepare meals that contain a variety of foods to obtain sufficient vitamin C.
- People with malabsorption and certain chronic diseases—Those with certain medical conditions like severe intestinal malabsorption, renal disease, or cancer may not be able to absorb enough vitamin C.
Tips For Increasing Your Vitamin C Intake:
- Serve fruits and vegetables raw whenever possible.
- Leave the skin on potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Add sliced strawberries, mango, or kiwi to your breakfast cereal.
- Use mashed avocado in place of mayonnaise as a sandwich spread.
- Throw snow peas in your stir-fry.
- Replace your morning coffee with a glass of orange or grapefruit juice.
- If you take a vitamin supplement, make sure it contains vitamin C.
American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/Public/
Harvard School of Public Health http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/
Canadian Digestive Health Foundation http://www.cdhf.ca/
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/
Ascorbic acid. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/. Updated November 7, 2011. Accessed September 19, 2012.
Vitamin C. Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health.website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitaminc.asp. Accessed July 6, 2010.
Vitamin C. Oregon State University Linus Pauling Institute website. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminC/index.html. Updated December 2009. Accessed September 19, 2012.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid). University of Maryland Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/vitamin-c-000339.htm. Updated July 7, 2011. Accessed September 19, 2012.
10/30/2009 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamicmedical.com/what.php : Hemila H, Louhiala P. Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2009;(3):CD005532.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 09/19/2012 -