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Most people can get adequate vitamin C in their diet by eating fruits and vegetables. However, some people take a vitamin C supplement due to dietary restrictions or a medical condition.

Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin and antioxidant essential for health. It helps the immune system, skin, and bones function, and it combats damage from free radicals, which are molecules that can adversely affect the body.

This article looks at who may benefit from taking vitamin C, how much people need to consume per day, and some of the best vitamin C supplements available on the market.

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According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), vitamin C deficiency is rare in the United States.

However, although most people can get enough vitamin C from fruits and vegetables, others may have difficulty getting enough vitamin C from their diet.

Those who may be at risk of vitamin C deficiency include:

  • older adults
  • people with alcohol use disorders
  • people with eating disorders
  • people who smoke, as cigarette smoke increases the damage that free radicals cause, resulting in a higher need for vitamin C
  • people who eat restricted diets for medical reasons
  • people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease that requires hemodialysis, conditions that cause malabsorption, and some types of cancer
  • infants who drink boiled cow’s milk — the heat destroys the small amount of vitamin C it contains

Anyone who is concerned that they have a deficiency can ask a doctor for blood tests to determine which nutrients they need. A long-term vitamin C deficiency can lead to scurvy.

In addition to those with a vitamin C deficiency, some other people may also benefit from consuming more of this nutrient. For example, some evidence suggests that vitamin C can reduce the severity and duration of the common cold.

However, according to the NIH, there is no conclusive evidence that vitamin C impacts COVID-19.

For more in-depth resources about vitamins, minerals, and supplements, visit our dedicated hub.

According to the NIH, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for most people is 75–90 milligrams (mg).

Typically, the small intestine absorbs up to 100 mg of vitamin C from food per day. Once the cells have become saturated with vitamin C, they cannot absorb any more.

However, some people believe that taking very large doses of vitamin C, or “megadosing,” is beneficial. This may stem from a 1976 paper indicating that high-dose vitamin C could prolong the lives of people with terminal cancer.

However, more recent studies have not repeated this result.

Vitamin C doses of over 2,000 mg per day may cause side effects, such as:

People with particular health conditions and those who take certain medications may also need to avoid vitamin C supplements. These conditions include hemochromatosis, which causes the body to store too much iron, and kidney stones.

Vitamin C may also interact with chemotherapy treatment.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate vitamin C products. For this reason, it is important for people to discuss taking any new supplement with a doctor.

There are several forms of vitamin C. In supplements, vitamin C usually comes in the form of ascorbic acid. However, some supplements contain other forms, such as sodium ascorbate, calcium ascorbate, or ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids.

According to the NIH, all forms of vitamin C are similarly beneficial.

There are various ways people can take vitamin C, including:

  • capsules
  • chewable gummies
  • effervescent tablets
  • powders
  • liquids
  • sprays

Some people may prefer the convenience of swallowing tablets, while others may prefer a powder to mix into drinks.

People who have problems absorbing nutrients may prefer a sublingual supplement, as the body absorbs these in the mouth rather than the intestines.

There are many vitamin products on the market, and because they are not FDA-regulated, they may vary significantly in purity, ingredients, and dose.

People should always buy vitamin C from a reputable company and ensure that the products undergo third-party testing.

The products below contain safe doses of vitamin C for adults and have undergone independent testing for quality.

Please note that the author of this article has not tried any of these products. All information presented here is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Care/of Vitamin C

Best for vegans

Care/of is a vitamin subscription service that creates a personalized plan for individuals based on their health needs.

The brand’s vitamin C supplement undergoes multiple rounds of testing to ensure safety, and the brand also sources its ingredients from trusted suppliers.

The supplement is vegan, gluten-free, and genetically modified organism (GMO)-free, and it contains 250 mg of fermented vitamin C per serving.

The company recommends taking 1 capsule per day. People can take this supplement at any time and on an empty stomach.

Pros and cons

This product has several advantages. The company tests all products to ensure they are safe to consume, and the vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, and GMO-free.

However, this is a subscription-based service. People who wish to use this vitamin as a one-off purchase may prefer to buy from another company.

Price: Care/of Vitamin C costs $7 for a 30-day supply.

Ritual Postnatal

Best for a multivitamin

Ritual is another multivitamin subscription service. The brand uses vitamin C as an ingredient in some products, including its postnatal multivitamin.

Each serving contains 25 mg of vitamin C and several other nutritional supplements, including choline, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and biotin.

Ritual claims that its ingredients are traceable and that customers can use the website to track the exact origin of the ingredients in the products.

The company recommends taking 2 capsules per day.

Pros and cons

An advantage of this product is that it contains other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D3, iron, and folate. Additionally, people can trace the ingredients in the vitamins from their point of origin.

However, this company also offers a subscription service. People who wish to buy supplements as a one-off purchase may prefer to buy from a different company.

Price: Ritual Postnatal costs $35 for 30 servings.

Persona Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids

Best for most dietary requirements

Persona is a subscription service that carries a vitamin C supplement containing bioflavonoids. The product is citrus flavored and can help boost antioxidant intake.

Each supplement contains 500 mg of vitamin C and has undergone quality testing at each stage to ensure safety.

Persona subscriptions also include consultations with nutritionists and personalized plans based on each individual’s health conditions.

The company recommends taking one capsule per day.

Pros and cons

Some advantages of this product are that it undergoes quality testing to ensure safety and is suitable for most dietary requirements. This vitamin is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, and the company makes it without some of the most common allergens, including wheat, soy, tree nuts, and egg.

However, Persona is a subscription service, so those who prefer to buy vitamins as a one-off purchase may choose a different company. Additionally, the company does not provide a price for 1 month’s supply unless someone creates an account.

Price: Persona does not currently display the overall cost of these vitamins. However, the company says that each dose costs $0.21 per day.

Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C Liquid

Best for a liquid vitamin

The Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C Liquid provides 1,000 mg of vitamin C in 1 teaspoon and comes in a pleasant citrus flavor.

According to the company, it contains non-GMO ingredients and is suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

This is a liposomal vitamin C product, which means that tiny bubbles of oil contain the vitamin C.

According to one 2020 study, the gut absorbs this form of vitamin C easier. However, the company likely factored this into the product’s price, which is higher than that of other products by other brands.

The company is National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified, and it has its ingredients tested for contaminants.

Pure Encapsulations recommends taking 4 drops (1 teaspoon) per day.

Pros and cons

Some advantages of this product are that it is suitable for vegans and vegetarians, it contains liposomal vitamin C that the gut may absorb easier, and the company tests the ingredients for safety.

However, this product is one of the more expensive options on this list.

Price: Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C Liquid costs $36.60 for 24 servings.

Life Extension Buffered Vitamin C Powder

Best for a powder vitamin

Some people find that taking ascorbic acid irritates their stomach. Buffered vitamin C is a less acidic form of the nutrient, which may help reduce adverse effects.

One serving of this powder provides 4,000 mg of vitamin C. This dose is very high — twice that of the upper limit that the NIH recommends.

However, as this product comes as a powder, people can lower the dose to a more moderate level by using a smaller amount.

Life Extension is also NSF- and GMP-certified and produces a Certificate of Analysis for every product it makes.

The company recommends mixing 1 rounded teaspoon into a glass of water per day.

Pros and cons

Some advantages of this product are that the company tests each product for safety, and it uses a less acidic form of vitamin C, which may reduce stomach irritation. Additionally, as this vitamin is in powder form, a person can lower the dose according to their requirements.

However, one serving of this product is twice that of the upper limit the NIH recommends. People who ingest a high amount of vitamin C may experience side effects.

Price: Life Extension Buffered Vitamin C Powder has a list price of $21 for an 84-day supply.

NOW Supplements Orange Chewable Vitamin C-500

Best for a chewable vitamin

People who do not like swallowing tablets may prefer a chewable vitamin. This product delivers 500 mg of vitamin C per chewable tablet. A person can take up to 2 tablets per day.

The product is free from common allergens and suitable for vegans. It does contain some sugar and natural sweeteners, though this only totals 1 gram per dose. The tablets have a natural orange flavor.

According to the website, NOW exceeds GMP standards and tests all raw ingredients for safety and purity.

The company recommends taking one tablet 1–2 times per day.

Pros and cons

An advantage of this product is that it is chewable. Some people may find it easier to take a chewable vitamin than swallowing a capsule. Additionally, NOW tests all ingredients to ensure their safety.

However, this product does contain sugar and natural sweeteners. Although the number of sugars in this product is low, some people may prefer to purchase a vitamin that does not contain any sugar.

Price: NOW Supplements Orange Chewable Vitamin C-500 costs $14.99 for 100 chewable tablets.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is the best way for someone to increase their vitamin C intake naturally.

The NIH suggests:

  • half a cup of raw sweet red pepper, which contains 95 mg of vitamin C
  • three-quarters of a cup of orange juice, which contains 93 mg of vitamin C
  • half a cup of broccoli and half a cup of strawberries, which totals 97 mg of vitamin C
  • one medium orange and half a cup of cooked cabbage, which totals 98 mg of vitamin C

Some companies also fortify their breakfast cereals with added vitamin C.

High heat, water-based cooking methods, as well as prolonged storage, can destroy some foods’ vitamin C content.

For this reason, the NIH suggests lightly steaming or microwaving vegetables to retain more of their nutrients.

Vitamin C deficiency can be fatal without treatment. A person should consult with a doctor if they have symptoms that may indicate a vitamin C deficiency.

These symptoms include:

  • small red or purple spots on the skin
  • inflamed, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • wobbly teeth or tooth loss
  • corkscrew-shaped hairs
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • joint pain

A person should also contact a doctor before taking vitamin C, particularly if they have a medical condition, are pregnant, or take any medications.

Below are some common questions about vitamin C.

How much vitamin C should a person take?

According to the NIH, a person should consume the following amounts of vitamin C per day:

0– 6 months40 mg40 mg
7–12 months50 mg50 mg
1–3 years15 mg15 mg
4–8 years25 mg25 mg
9–13 years45 mg45 mg
14–18 years65 mg75 mg
19+ years75 mg90 mg

Additionally, people who are pregnant or lactating will require more vitamin C:

14–18 years80 mg115 mg
19+ years85 mg120 mg

People who smoke should consume 35 mg more vitamin C than their age group.

Can vitamin C damage the kidneys?

According to the NIH, there is some evidence that high amounts of vitamin C can increase the risk of kidney stones. Ingesting high amounts of vitamin C can increase oxalate in the urine, which could lead to kidney stones, especially in people who have a renal disorder.

However, the NIH also states that there is conflicting evidence whether kidney stones and vitamin C intake are related. The organization says that people most at risk of kidney stones due to ingesting too much vitamin C are people who already have high amounts of oxalate in the urine.

Should people take vitamin C daily?

People should aim to ingest the NIH’s recommended daily intake of vitamin C per day.

One source of vitamin C is fruit and vegetables. For example, three-quarters of a cup of orange juice contains 106% of a person’s RDA of vitamin C.

However, the NIH says that there is an upper tolerable limit of how much vitamin C a person can consume before experiencing side effects such as diarrhea and nausea:

AgeUpper tolerable limit
1–3 years400 mg
4–8 years650 mg
9–13 years1,200 mg
14–18 years1,800 mg
19+ years2,000 mg

Most people get enough vitamin C by eating a varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables. However, some people may need to take a supplement.

All forms of vitamin C work in much the same way, but people should always choose a reputable seller and consider the dose, quality, and price point before buying a product.

Consuming too much vitamin C may cause side effects.

Vitamin C supplements are not suitable for everyone, so it is always best for a person to consult a doctor or registered dietitian before taking any.