Focus On: Vitamin C

What it is, why we need it, and where to find it

What it is:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that our body needs to function properly. The body does not make this vitamin, so it must be consumed through food or supplements. Since the 1700s, it has been known as the “antiscorbutic factor” due to its ability to prevent scurvy.

[ Sources ]

Vitamin C can be found in both food and supplement form. Natural sources are broccoli, asparagus, kale, Brussels sprouts, and peppers, as well as the more commonly known citrus fruits and strawberries. Supplemental sources are through tablets, gummies, or capsules.

[ Benefits ]

The body uses vitamin C to fight free radicals; provide strength and elasticity to skin, bones, tendons, joints, and blood vessels; heal wounds and form scar tissue; and protect against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, and eye disease.

[ Recommended Dosage ]

The Institute of Medicine recommends 75 to 120 mg of vitamin C per day for adults with a tolerable upper limit (UL) of 2,000 mg. Mayo Clinic recommends 15 mg daily for kids 1 to 3 with a UL of 400 mg; 25 mg for kids 4 to 8 with a UL of 650 mg; 45 mg for kids 9 to 13 with a UL of 1,200 mg; and 75 mg for kids 14 to 18 with a UL of 1,800 mg.

[ Warnings ]

Taking more than 2,000 mg per day of vitamin C could cause gastrointestinal disturbances, but too little vitamin C is more of a concern than too much. Side effects of a deficiency are anemia, bleeding gums, gingivitis, nosebleeds, weakened tooth enamel, and painful joints.

[ Vitamin C Picks ]

Rainbow Light Gummy Vitamin C Slices, $11, 90 gummies, rainbowlight.com // American Health Ester-C, $26, 90 capsules, americanhealthus.com // Hero Nutritionals Yummi Bears, $13, 60 gummy bears, heronutritionals.com // Altrient C, $40, 30 packets, altrient.com