Vitamin C - Vitamins and minerals

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.

See the full government dietary recommendations (PDF, 148kb) for levels for children and older adults.

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.

Page last reviewed: 03/03/2017
Next review due: 03/03/2020