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Vitamin C: Sources, benefits, supplements and more

by Harry 5 minutes read

Last updated: 04 Jul, 2022

Is a glass of orange juice your go to when you get a cold? Well maybe it should be.

Most of us know that this popular vitamin has been spurred to increase our immune systems, but how?

Even before its discovery in 1932, citrus fruits were notorious for preventing scurvy, a disease that killed as many as two million sailors between 1500 and 1800.

In the 1970s, Linus Pauling, a double Nobel laureate, began promoting daily megadoses of vitamin C as a way to prevent colds and some chronic diseases. This amount equals between 12 to 24 oranges every single day.

What is Vitamin C and what does it do?

Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin. This means that it dissolves well in water and is therefore efficiently delivered to the body’s tissues but it is not well stored. As such we must regularly source vitamin C from fruits and supplements each day.

Ascorbic acid is also an antioxidant that helps protect cells against the effects of free radicals, which are molecules produced as your body breaks down food and is exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation from the sun.

Vitamin C is a vital nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in bones and can play a key role in controlling infections and healing wounds.

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Vitamin C is found in many fruits and veg, but the following are probably your best options:

  • citrus fruit, such as oranges and orange juice

  • peppers

  • strawberries

  • blackcurrants

  • broccoli

  • brussels sprouts

  • potatoes

If you suffer from any allergies to the foods above, then Vitamin C supplements are a great alternative and there are plenty to choose from.

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How much Vitamin C do you need?

According to the NHS, adults aged 19 to 64 need roughly 40mg of vitamin C a day.

If you decide to take supplements and consume more than 1,000mg per day you could experience stomach pain, diarrhoea and flatulence, but these symptoms are likely to disappear once you stop taking supplements.

The NHS recommends that you should get all of the Vitamin C your body needs through a varied and balanced diet. As any amount over 1,000mg could be harmful, you should practice caution if you look to take supplements.

Potential benefits

One vitamin alone won’t cure or prevent diseases, they often work together in a varied and balanced diet to help keep our bodies in tip-top shape. But, studies show that vitamin C can have a substantial effect on boosting our immune system. Here are some of the benefits research has shown throughout the years.

Common Cold

This is perhaps the greatest benefit of vitamin C spouted by nutrition fanatics around the world, but just how true is it?

An analysis of 29 different studies which had 11,306 participants found that supplementing with 200 mg of vitamin C did not reduce the risk of catching a cold but it did have several benefits, including:

  • Reduced symptom severity

  • Reduced duration: The study showed that cold recovery time decreased by 8% in adults and 14% in children with supplements.

The same study found that a dose of 1–2 grams of vitamin C supplement shortened the cold duration by 18% in children.

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Wound healing

As we previously mentioned - Vitamin C helps produce collagen in our body, as well as being present in our skin, muscle, and other tissues. Collagen is hugely important in the wound recovery process.

As a result, people with vitamin C deficiencies may experience slower wound healing, as their bodies struggle to produce as much collagen. (1)

Cardiovascular health

Vitamin C may have beneficial effects on our cardiovascular health for a variety of reasons: (2)

  • antioxidant properties

  • blood vessel widening

  • nitric oxide production improvements

These benefits could help protect against heart disease and hypertension, or high blood pressure.


Some research suggests that the antioxidants in vitamin C and vitamin E may help reduce systems of both asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Disclaimer: We provide this information for educational purposes only. No content on this site should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

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