Vitamins, minerals and supplements

Find out about vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid), including what it does, how much you need, and good sources of it.

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping to protect cells and keeps them healthy
  • maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
  • helping with wound healing

Lack of vitamin C can lead to scurvy. Mild deficiencies may occur in infants given unsupplemented cows' milk and in people with poor or very restricted diets.

Good sources of vitamin C

Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include:

  • oranges and orange juice
  • red and green peppers
  • strawberries
  • blackcurrants
  • broccoli
  • brussels sprouts
  • potatoes

How much vitamin C do I need?

Adults (19-64 years) need 40mg of vitamin C a day.

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need from your daily diet.

Vitamin C can't be stored in the body, so you need it in your diet every day.

What happens if I take too much vitamin C?

Taking large amounts (more than 1,000mg per day) of vitamin C can cause:

These symptoms should disappear once you stop taking vitamin C supplements.

What does the Department of Health advise?

You should be able to get all the vitamin C you need by eating a varied and balanced diet. If you take vitamin C supplements, don't take too much as this could be harmful.

Taking less than 1,000mg of vitamin C supplements a day is unlikely to cause any harm.

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