Vitamin C: How Much You Need And How To Get It

At some point when you had a cold, someone probably told you to take your vitamin C and it would go away. Unfortunately, that is a misconception-- vitamin C isn't a cure for the common cold. Still, you should ensure you’re getting your daily recommended dose every day anyway since it does so many important things for your body to help you maintain good health.

Why Do I Need Vitamin C

Your body doesn't need vitamin C when you have a cold; it actually needs it every day. While it doesn't cure colds, it can help prevent them and build up your immune system. It also helps you produce collagen, which helps you heal from injuries and wounds. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect cells from free radical damages, which are both formed from our food digestion and come from the environment (pollution, smoke, UV rays, etc.).

One of the most important functions of vitamin C is to help the body absorb iron. This is especially important for vegetarians, as the body does not as readily absorb iron from plant-based sources as it does from meat-based sources.

How Much Vitamin C Do I Need?

How much vitamin C a person needs varies, mainly with gender and age. Adult men tend to need up to 90 mg per day, while most women will need only 75 mg. Pregnant women should up their daily dose to 85 mg, and nursing mothers up to 120 mg.

Children generally need less, depending on the age of development. Parents who are concerned should check with a pediatrician.

Foods with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is best gotten from fruits-- particularly citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit. Kiwi, strawberries, and cantaloupe are also rich in vitamin C. If you don't enjoy eating fruits, you can also drink citrus juices as part of your daily breakfast routine.

Speaking of breakfast, check the label on your breakfast cereal. Many healthy cereals have been fortified with much of your daily vitamin and mineral requirement, including vitamin C.

Vegetables also contain hefty doses of vitamin C. Broccoli, in particular, is a great source, as are tomatoes and bell peppers. One thing, though-- overcooking can kill the vitamins. Eat them raw or crisp-tender.

Too Much Vitamin C

For something that's generally considered so good for you, few people stop to realize that sometimes, too much of a good thing can be really bad for you. While it's rare to suffer effects of too much vitamin C, it can occasionally cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, cramping, headaches, or insomnia, and may result in kidney stones. This is why any time you're thinking of taking supplements beyond a good multi-vitamin, you should get a blood test and discuss doses with your health care professional.

Photo: Pexels

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