Vitamin C health benefits: daily dose, food sources and deficiency symptoms


Vitamin C is one top published vitamin due to its wide range of health beneficial effects. Human body can’t self synthesize it so you have to take from external sources i.e. food sources. Vitamin C or its reduced form ascorbic acid is a water soluble vitamin. So body can’t store it and you need it on regular basis. Here you will know Vitamin C health benefits: daily dose, food sources and deficiency symptoms.

Vitamin C health benefits: daily dose, food sources and deficiency symptoms.

Powerful antioxidant and lower risk of chronic diseases

Free radical or oxidative damage is root cause or at least associated with many diseases. Having high electron donating power vitamin c can neutralize free radicals as well as give protection your body from oxidative damage of cells or organs. Regular intake of vitamin C can lower risk of a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, eye diseases, and neurodegenerative conditions.(1)

Being a powerful antioxidant vitamin c also lower risk of heart disease-cohort study pooling 9 prospective studies on 293,172 revealed.(2)

Related article: Most common causes of lifestyle diseases and prevention

Prevent aging and improve skin health

Your body needs vitamin C for biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters as well as protein metabolism.(3,4)Friends, collagen is the most important structural protein that holds the body, connective tissue, cartilage, ligaments, tendons. Lack of which results weaken tissue causes early aging. Vitamin C involves in collagen formation and thus prevents early aging.(5)Being a powerful antioxidant vitamin C gives protection to the skin from UV ray and so improves skin health.(6)

Apart from these vitamin C also works as co factor for various enzymes and improve your health.(1)

Helps to lower blood uric acid level and gout

Gout appears as symptoms of high uric acid level. Study found higher intake of vitamin C significantly reduces blood uric acid levels and also lower risk of developing gout.(7)Another population-based study of 1,387 men found that greater vitamin C intake was associated with lower blood uric acid and gout. (8)

Help in iron absorption and prevent iron deficiency anemia

Vitamin C improves bio-availability of iron and thus helps in iron absorption including plant source iron. And for that reason you should combine vitamin C with iron supplement or food with source of iron.

Vitamin C also enhances calcium absorption in intestine. However you should not mix iron and calcium at the same time, as due to similar structure they compete each other for absorption.


Improve immune function

Vitamin C helps in production of lymphocytes and phagocytes or white blood cells which protect our body from infection.(9)Vitamin C also helps in wound healing and your body to heal from wound in faster rate. (10)

Signs of vitamin C deficiency

With progression of vitamin C deficiency, collagen synthesis becomes impaired and so connective tissues become weakened. Deficiency symptoms include, joint and muscle pain and weakness, poor wound healing, bleeding gum, depression, hyperkeratosis, leg rashes and corkscrew hairs. Long term deficiency can cause scurvy.

Daily dose

Present Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin C
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months 40 mg* 40 mg*
7–12 months 50 mg* 50 mg*
1–3 years 15 mg 15 mg
4–8 years 25 mg 25 mg
9–13 years 45 mg 45 mg
14–18 years 75 mg 65 mg 80 mg 115 mg
19+ years 90 mg 75 mg 85 mg 120 mg
Smokers Individuals who smoke require 35 mg/day
more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

* Adequate Intake (AI)-source: National Institute of Health

Upper limit of vitamin C is 2000 mg in a day. Although vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, mega dose may sometimes cause Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Heartburn, Abdominal cramps, Headache, Insomnia. Smoking depletes vitamin C level in body.

Take home message

While commonly people think only citrus fruits contains vitamin C, but vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts etc also contain higher level of vitamin C. I have attached a list of foods that contains vitamin C. As vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, your body can’t store it, also doesn’t absorb excess. So, you need to include it in your food regular basis. One most important thing you should know exposure to air destroys vitamin C. So, you need to eat fresh fruits or vegetable as early as possible to obtain vitamin C. Also cooking with hot water reduces large amount of vitamin C from foods.(11) I have listed fruits and vegetables containing higher percentage of vitamin C, which will help you to identify the sources.

Food sources of vitamin C(Source: USDA Databases)

Description Weight(g) Measure Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid (mg)
    Per Measure
Acerola juice, raw 242 1.0 cup 3872
Acerola, (west indian cherry), raw 98 1.0 cup 1644
Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted 262 1.0 cup 379.4
Orange juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted, with added calcium 262 1.0 cup 379.4
Guavas, common, raw 165 1.0 cup 376.7
Guava sauce, cooked 238 1.0 cup 348.4
Fruit juice smoothie, BOLTHOUSE FARMS, BERRY BOOST 252 1.0 cup 273.7
Grapefruit juice, white, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted 207 1.0 can (6 fl oz) 248
Peaches, frozen, sliced, sweetened 250 1.0 cup, thawed 235.5
Currants, european black, raw 112 1.0 cup 202.7
Apple juice, frozen concentrate, unsweetened, undiluted, with added ascorbic acid 211 1.0 can (6 fl oz) 187.6
Kiwifruit, green, raw 180 1.0 cup, sliced 166.9
Litchis, raw 190 1.0 cup 135.8
Kiwifruit, ZESPRI SunGold, raw 81 1.0 fruit 130.7
Juice, apple, grape and pear blend, with added ascorbic acid and calcium 250 8.0 fl oz 126.8
Orange juice, raw (Includes foods for USDA’s Food Distribution Program) 248 1.0 cup 124
Ruby Red grapefruit juice blend (grapefruit, grape, apple), OCEAN SPRAY, bottled, with added vitamin C 248 8.0 fl oz 122
Oranges, raw, with peel 170 1.0 cup 120.7
Mammy-apple, (mamey), raw 846 1.0 fruit without refuse 118.4
Pummelo, raw 190 1.0 cup, sections 115.9
Lemons, raw, without peel 212 1.0 cup, sections 112.4
Fruit juice smoothie, BOLTHOUSE FARMS, strawberry banana 233 1.0 cup 110.2
Pineapple juice, canned or bottled, unsweetened, with added ascorbic acid 250 1.0 cup 109.5
Strawberries, frozen, sweetened, sliced 255 1.0 cup, thawed 105.6
Nance, frozen, unsweetened 112 1.0 cup without pits, thawed 103.6
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for 
educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health
consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different
people may have different health condition and may have different reaction
to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care
provider before application of any of above information
Source & reference: 
1.Vitamin C function and status in chronic disease, Jacob RA, Sotoudeh G, 
Nutr Clin Care. 2002 Mar-Apr;5(2):66-74. 
2.Antioxidant vitamins and coronary heart disease risk: a pooled analysis 
of 9 cohorts, Knekt P, Ritz J, Pereira MA, O'Reilly EJ, Augustsson K, 
Fraser GE, Goldbourt U, Heitmann BL, Hallmans G, Liu S, Pietinen P, 
Spiegelman D, Stevens J, Virtamo J, Willett WC, Rimm EB, Ascherio A., Am J 
Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1508-20 
3.Li Y, Schellhorn HE. New developments and novel therapeutic perspectives 
for vitamin C. J Nutr 2007; 137:2171-84 
4.Carr AC, Frei B. Toward a new recommended dietary allowance for vitamin C 
based on antioxidant and health effects in humans. Am J Clin Nutr 
5.Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-
linking by normal human fibroblasts, Boyera N, Galey I, Bernard BA,.Int J 
Cosmet Sci. 1998 Jun;20(3):151-8.  
6.Modulation of UV-light-induced skin inflammation by d-alpha-tocopherol 
and l-ascorbic acid: a clinical study using solar simulated 
radiation,JurgenFuchs HerbertKer,Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 
25,Issue 9, December 1998,Pages 1006-1012 
7.Vitamin C intake and the risk of gout in men: a prospective study,Choi 
HK, Gao X, Curhan G., Arch Intern Med. 2009 Mar 9;169(5):502-7 
8.Vitamin C intake and serum uric acid concentration in men,Gao X, Curhan 
G, Forman JP, Ascherio A, Choi HK., J Rheumatol. 2008 Sep;35(9):1853-8. 
Epub 2008 May 
9.Technical advance: ascorbic acid induces development of double-positive T 
cells from human hematopoietic stem cells in the absence of stromal 
cells,Huijskens MJ, Walczak M, Koller N, Briedé JJ, Senden-Gijsbers BL, 
Schnijderberg MC, Bos GM, Germeraad WT.J Leukoc Biol. 2014 Dec;96(6):1165-
Taylor,S. Rimmer,B. Day,J. Butcher, I.W. Dymock,The Lancet,Volume 304, 
ISSUE 7880, P544-546, September 07, 1974
11.Zeng, C. (2013), "Effects of different cooking methods on the vitamin C 
content of selected vegetables", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 43 No. 5,
pp. 438-443.

Bikramjit Konwar

Author: Bikramjit Konwar


4 Responses

  1. An important post on value of proper diet rich in vitamin C. Deficiency of this vitamin may lead to Scurvy, a disease that used to be prevalent in sea voyagers in 18th century when they did not have access to fresh fruits. Nowadays, we must ensure eating enough citrus fruit like lemon, orange etc in some form or other.

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