Vitamin C; Types, Deficiency Symptoms, Food Source, Health Benefit

Vitamin C; Types, Deficiency Symptoms








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Vitamin C is a vitamin found in food and used as a dietary supplement. The disease scurvy is prevented and treated with vitamin C-containing foods or dietary supplements. Evidence does not support use in the general population for the prevention of the common cold. There is, however, some evidence that regular use may shorten the length of colds.It is unclear if supplementation affects the risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, or dementia. It may be taken by mouth or by injection.

Types of Vitamin C

The form of vitamin C most frequently used in supplements is ascorbic acid, which has a bioavailability that is equivalent to the vitamin C that naturally occurs in foods like orange juice and broccoli.1

Other types of vitamin C include:

  • sodium ascorbate (a mineral ascorbate)
  • calcium ascorbate (a mineral ascorbate)
  • other mineral ascorbates (it’s a long list!)
  • ascorbic acid with bioflavonoids
  • combination vitamin C products that blend different forms

Other Common Esters or Derivates of Vitamin C

  • Ascorbyl Palmitate
  • Ascorbyl Silanol
  • Sodium Ascorbate
  • Ascorbyl Glucoside
  • Ascorbyl Glucosamine
  • Ascorbyl Methylsilanol Pectinate

Warning Signs You Are Vitamin C Deficient

Concerned you might be vitamin C deficient? Here are some signs you should be watching out for:

1. Easy Bruising

Bruising, caused when small blood vessels near the skin’s surface (known as capillaries) break and leak red blood cells, is a natural and normal response to certain injuries like a fall or a knock.

While a certain amount of bruising is to be expected, excessive or unexplained reddish-purple marks on the skin may point to a shortage of vitamin C in the diet due to weakened capillaries.

The University of Michigan Health System states that even minor deficiencies of vitamin C can lead to increased bruising. They recommend that people who bruise easily should try to increase their intake of vitamin C to see if that has an effect, as consuming more vitamin C has been found to reduce bruising in those who aren’t already getting enough.

2. Slow Wound Healing

If you notice your cuts and scrapes are slow to heal, have a closer look at your diet. As vitamin C is essential to the formation of collagen in the skin – a new connective tissue that binds a healing wound, a lack will lead to slow healing.

This link has been given recognition in medical literature since 1937 when Harvard Medical School surgeons noticed that the spontaneous breakdown of surgical wounds occurred in patients with low levels of vitamin C.

Along with playing a role in collagen formation in healing wounds, vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant and immune system booster – both of which encourage faster healing.

3. Swollen, Bleeding or Inflamed Gums

Oral health problems, like swollen or bleeding gums or recurrent mouth ulcers, are often linked to suboptimal levels of vitamin C.

Again, collagen is important as it supports the gums. It’s estimated that gums turn over at least 20% of their collagen every day, meaning regular hits of vitamin C are vital for good teeth and gums.

Low levels of the vitamin are linked with an increased risk of gum disease which can range from simple gum inflammation to major soft tissue damage!

If not addressed, low vitamin C intake can progress and eventually lead to scurvy, a disease characterized by bleeding, oozing gums and the loss of teeth.

4. Dry or Splitting Hair and Nails

A shiny head of hair and strong nails can often be a good indicator of a balanced diet. Likewise, a lackluster mane that is dry and splitting may highlight a problem.

Because hair is a non-essential tissue, nutrients such as vitamin C are sent to more important organs and tissues first, before making their way to the hair. So if you have less than ideal levels of the vitamin, you may find your hair is suffering.

Furthermore, vitamin C is vital for the absorption of iron – a deficiency of which can cause chronic hair loss and slow hair growth, along with brittle and concave nails.

5. Red, Rough or Dry Skin

One of the first signs of scurvy is rough and dry skin caused by a lack of collagen. Low levels of vitamin C are also linked to the common but harmless skin problem keratosis pilaris – characterized by the presence of small, hard bumps on the upper arms, thighs, buttocks and face.

The good news is that simply upping your intake of vitamin C rich foods can greatly improve skin tone and texture.

Studies show that diets high in vitamin C are associated with better skin appearance and less wrinkling. Other research demonstrates that vitamin C can offset some of the damage caused by the sun’s UV rays, thanks to antioxidant activity; and may inhibit water loss from the skin, preventing dry skin.

6. Frequent Nosebleeds

Over 90% of nosebleeds come from capillaries in the front of the nose. Because adequate vitamin C intake decreases the fragility of these small blood vessels, a lack of it may cause regular nosebleeds.

If you’re experiencing these frequently, or at least more often than usual, don’t dismiss an inadequate diet as the underlying cause.

If your deficiency progresses to scurvy, you can expect easily provoked bleeding from the nose and gums.

7. Poor Immune Function

The immune system, our body’s protection against infection and disease, is strongly influenced by the intake of nutrients, particularly vitamin C.

Several cells in our immune system need the vitamin to perform their tasks so naturally a deficiency leads to a reduced resistance against certain pathogens. Getting enough vitamin C means that our immune system will be in tip-top shape to reduce the risk, severity and duration of certain infectious diseases.

Despite popular opinion though, vitamin C may not ward off the common cold. While some studies say vitamin C may slightly reduce the duration of the illness (but not affect its incidence or severity), others show contradictory results.

Nevertheless, getting enough vitamin C is important for overall health, especially if you are under physical strain or already have insufficient intake of the vitamin.

8. Swollen and Painful Joints

Pain and swelling of the joints caused by inflammatory arthritis may be another sign you need to overhaul your diet.

A 2004 study, conducted in Great Britain, found that people who had low levels of vitamin C were three times more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than those whose diets included foods rich in the vitamin.

9. Fatigue or Depression

Fatigue and low mood are symptoms of so many illnesses, so it can be hard to identify a specific condition based on exhaustion alone. But when coupled with other symptoms, it may help to identify a lack of vitamin C.

There is a well-known link between vitamin C deficiency and psychological state, sayresearchers. What’s more, studies of hospitalized patients (who often have suboptimal vitamin C levels) demonstrate a perceived improvement in mood after vitamin C supplementation – by up to 34%!

10. Unexplained Weight Gain

Too little vitamin C in the bloodstream leads to an increase in body fat and waist circumference.

In 2006, Arizona State University researchers found that the amount of vitamin C we absorb directly affects our body’s ability to use fat as a fuel source during both exercise and when at rest.

During the four week study, 20 obese men and women were put on a low-fat diet which contained 67% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They were also randomly given either a 500 mg vitamin C capsule daily, or a placebo.

  • Assists in the formation of new collagen to restore healthy protein fibres
  • Provides antioxidant protection against environmental damage by defending the skin from free radical activity which causes photo-ageing.
  • Shields the skin from aging and DNA damage caused by pollution
  • Promotes skin repair and wound healing
  • Brightens the skin and reduces uneven skin tone
  • Improves hyperpigmentation by regulating melanocyte functioning
  • Reduces redness (erythema) and has anti-inflammatory benefits
  • Improves hydration levels
  • Promotes a youthful, healthy skin

Recommended Intakes

Table 3: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin C 
AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–12 monthsNot possible to establish*Not possible to establish*
1–3 years400 mg400 mg
4–8 years650 mg650 mg
9–13 years1,200 mg1,200 mg
14–18 years1,800 mg1,800 mg1,800 mg1,800 mg
19+ years2,000 mg2,000 mg2,000 mg2,000 mg

*Formula and food should be the only sources of vitamin C for infants.

Intake recommendations for vitamin C and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences) . DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used for planning and assessing nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender , include:

  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Average daily level of intake sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97%–98%) healthy individuals; often used to plan nutritionally adequate diets for individuals.
  • Adequate Intake (AI): Intake at this level is assumed to ensure nutritional adequacy; established when evidence is insufficient to develop an RDA.
  • Estimated Average Requirement (EAR): Average daily level of intake estimated to meet the requirements of 50% of healthy individuals; usually used to assess the nutrient intakes of groups of people and to plan nutritionally adequate diets for them; can also be used to assess the nutrient intakes of individuals.
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): Maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects.

Table 1 lists the current RDAs for vitamin C . The RDAs for vitamin C are based on its known physiological and antioxidant functions in white blood cells and are much higher than the amount required for protection from deficiency . For infants from birth to 12 months, the FNB established an AI for vitamin C that is equivalent to the mean intake of vitamin C in healthy, breastfed infants.

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin C 
AgeMaleFemalePregnancyLactation
0–6 months40 mg*40 mg*
7–12 months50 mg*50 mg*
1–3 years15 mg15 mg
4–8 years25 mg25 mg
9–13 years45 mg45 mg
14–18 years75 mg65 mg80 mg115 mg
19+ years90 mg75 mg85 mg120 mg
SmokersIndividuals who smoke require 35 mg/day
more vitamin C than nonsmokers.

* Adequate Intake (AI)

Sources of Vitamin C

Food

Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin C (see Table 2) . Citrus fruits, tomatoes and tomato juice, and potatoes are major contributors of vitamin C to the American diet . Other good food sources include red and green peppers, kiwifruit, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe . Although vitamin C is not naturally present in grains, it is added to some fortified breakfast cereals. The vitamin C content of food may be reduced by prolonged storage and by cooking because ascorbic acid is water soluble and is destroyed by heat . Steaming or microwaving may lessen cooking losses. Fortunately, many of the best food sources of vitamin C, such as fruits and vegetables, are usually consumed raw. Consuming five varied servings of fruits and vegetables a day can provide more than 200 mg of vitamin C.

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin C 
FoodMilligrams (mg) per servingPercent (%) DV*
Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup95158
Orange juice, ¾ cup93155
Orange, 1 medium70117
Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup70117
Kiwifruit, 1 medium64107
Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup60100
Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup5185
Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cup4982
Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup4880
Grapefruit, ½ medium3965
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup3965
Tomato juice, ¾ cup3355
Cantaloupe, ½ cup2948
Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup2847
Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup2643
Potato, baked, 1 medium1728
Tomato, raw, 1 medium1728
Spinach, cooked, ½ cup915
Green peas, frozen, cooked, ½ cup813

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin C is 60 mg for adults and children aged 4 and older. The FDA requires all food labels to list the percent DV for vitamin C. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Nutrient Database Web site lists the nutrient content of many foods and provides a comprehensive list of foods containing vitamin C arranged by nutrient content and by food name.

Health Benefit of Vitamin C

Likely Effective for

  • Iron absorption – Administering vitamin C along with iron can increase how much iron the body absorbs in adults and children.
  • A genetic disorder in newborns called tyrosinemia – Taking vitamin C by mouth or as a shot improves a genetic disorder in newborns in which blood levels of the amino acid tyrosine are too high.

Possibly Effective for

  • Age-related vision loss (age-related macular degeneration; AMD) – Taking vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and zinc helps prevent AMD from becoming worse in people at high risk for developing advanced AMD. It’s too soon to know if the combination helps people at lower risk for developing advanced AMD. Also, it’s too soon to known if vitamin C helps prevents AMD.
  • Increasing protein in the urine (albuminuria) – Taking vitamin C plus vitamin E can reduce protein in the urine in people with diabetes.
  • Irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation) – Taking vitamin C before and for a few days after heart surgery helps prevent irregular heartbeat after heart surgery.
  • For emptying the colon before a colonoscopy – Before a person undergoes a colonoscopy, the person must make sure that their colon is empty. This emptying is called bowel preparation. Some bowel preparation involves drinking 4 liters of medicated fluid. If vitamin C is included in the medicated fluid, the person only needs to drink 2 liters. This makes people more likely to follow through with the emptying procedure. Also fewer side effects occur. A specific medicated fluid containing vitamin C has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for bowel preparation.
  • Common cold – There is some controversy about the effectiveness of vitamin C for treating the common cold. However, most research shows that taking 1-3 grams of vitamin C might shorten the course of the cold by 1 to 1.5 days. Taking vitamin C does not appear to prevent colds.
  • A chronic pain condition called complex regional pain syndrome – Taking vitamin C after surgery or injury to the arm or leg seems to prevent complex regional pain syndrome from developing.
  • Redness (erythema) after cosmetic skin procedures – Using a skin cream containing vitamin C might decrease skin redness following laser resurfacing for scar and wrinkle removal.
  • Upper airway infections caused by heavy exercise – Using vitamin C before heavy physical exercise, such as a marathon, might prevent upper airway infections that can occur after heavy exercise.
  • Stomach inflammation (gastritis) – Some medicine used to treat H. pylori infection can worsen stomach inflammation. Taking vitamin C along with one of these medicines called omeprazole might decrease this side effect.
  • Gout – Higher intake of vitamin C from the diet is linked to a lower risk of gout in men. But vitamin C doesn’t help treat gout.
  • Worsening of stomach inflammation caused by medicine used to treat H – pylori infection. Some medicine used to treat H. pylori infection can worsen stomach inflammation. Taking vitamin C along with one of these medicines called omeprazole might decrease this side effect.
  • Abnormal breakdown of red blood cells (hemolytic anemia) – Taking vitamin C supplements might help manage anemia in people undergoing dialysis.
  • High blood pressure – Taking vitamin C along with medicine to lower blood pressure helps lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) by a small amount. But it does not seem to lower diastolic pressure (the bottom number). Taking vitamin C does not seem to lower blood pressure when taken without medicine to lower blood pressure.
  • High cholesterol – Taking vitamin C might reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL or “bad”) cholesterol in people with high cholesterol.
  • Lead poisoning – Consuming vitamin C in the diet seems to lower blood levels of lead.
  • Helping medicines used for chest pain work longer – In some people who take medicines for chest pain, the body develops tolerance and the medicines stop working as well. Taking vitamin C seems to help these medicines, such as nitroglycerine, work for longer.
  • Osteoarthritis – Taking vitamin C from dietary sources or from calcium ascorbate supplements seems to prevent cartilage loss and worsening of symptoms in people with osteoarthritis.
  • Physical performance – Eating more vitamin C as part of the diet might improve physical performance and muscle strength in older people. Also, taking vitamin C supplements might improve oxygen intake during exercise in teenage boys. However, taking vitamin C with vitamin E does not seem to improve muscle strength in older men also doing a strength training program.
  • Sunburn – Taking vitamin C by mouth or applying it to the skin along with vitamin E might prevent sunburn. But taking vitamin C alone does not prevent sunburn.
  • Wrinkled skin – Skin creams containing vitamin C seem to improve the appearance of wrinkled skin.

Possibly Ineffective for

  • Bronchitis – Taking vitamin C by mouth does not seem to have any effect on bronchitis.
  • Asthma – Some people with asthma have low vitamin C levels in their blood. But taking vitamin C does not seem to reduce the chance of getting asthma or improve asthma symptoms in people who already have asthma.
  • Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) – Higher intake of vitamin C as part of the diet is not linked with a reduced risk of atherosclerosis. Also, taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent atherosclerosis from becoming worse in most people with this condition.
  • Bladder cancer – Taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent bladder cancer or reduce bladder cancer-related deaths in men.
  • Colon cancer – Higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements is not linked with a lower risk of cancer in the colon or rectum.
  • Fracture – Taking vitamin C does not seem to improve function, symptoms, or healing rates in people with a wrist fracture.
  • Ulcers caused by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) – Taking vitamin C along with medicines used to treat H. pylori infection doesn’t seem to get rid of H. pylori better than taking the medicines alone.
  • Inherited nerve damage (hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy) – Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a group of inherited disorders that cause nerve damage. Taking vitamin C does not seem to prevent nerve damage from becoming worse in people with this condition.
  • Eye damage associated with a medicine called interferon – Taking vitamin C by mouth does not seem to prevent eye damage in people receiving interferon therapy for liver disease.
  • Leukemia – Taking vitamin C does not seem to prevent leukemia or death due to leukemia in men.
  • Lung cancer – Taking vitamin C, alone or with vitamin E, does not seem to prevent lung cancer or death due to lung cancer.
  • Melanoma – Taking vitamin C, alone or with vitamin E, does not prevent melanoma or death due to melanoma.
  • Overall risk of death – High blood levels of vitamin C have been linked with a reduced risk of death from any cause. But taking vitamin C supplements along with other antioxidants does not seem to prevent death.
  • Pancreatic cancer – Taking vitamin C together with beta-carotene plus vitamin E does not prevent pancreatic cancer.
  • High blood pressure during pregnancy (pre-eclampsia) – Most research shows that taking vitamin C with vitamin E does not prevent high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Prostate cancer – Taking vitamin C supplements does not seem to prevent prostate cancer.
  • Skin problems related to radiation cancer treatments – Applying a vitamin C solution to the skin does not prevent skin problems caused by radiation treatments.

Insufficient Evidence for

  • Hay fever – Using nasal spray containing vitamin C seems to improve nasal symptoms in people with allergies that last all year. Taking vitamin C by mouth might block histamine in people with seasonal allergies. But results are conflicting.
  • Alzheimer’s disease – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease) – Higher intake of vitamin C from food or supplements is not linked with a reduced risk of ALS.
  • Stomach damage caused by aspirin – Taking vitamin C might prevent stomach damage caused by aspirin.
  • A condition associated with an increased risk for developing allergic reactions (atopic disease) – Higher intake of vitamin C is not linked with a lower risk of eczema, wheezing, food allergies, or allergic sensitization.
  • Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – Taking high doses of vitamins, including vitamin C, does not seem to reduce ADHD symptoms. But taking lower doses of vitamin C along with flaxseed oil might improve some symptoms, such as restlessness and self-control.
  • Autism Early research shows that taking vitamin C might reduce the severity of autism symptoms in children.
  • Breast cancer – It’s too soon to know if higher intake of vitamin C from food helps prevent breast cancer from developing. But a higher intake of vitamin C from food seems to be linked with a reduced risk of death in people diagnosed with breast cancer. Also, taking vitamin C supplements after being diagnosed with breast cancer seems to help reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer.
  • Burns – Early research suggests that receiving a vitamin C infusion within the first 24 hours of severe burns reduces wound swelling.
  • Cancer – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing cancer. But taking vitamin C supplements doesn’t seem to prevent cancer. In people diagnosed with advanced cancer, taking large doses (10 grams) of vitamin C by mouth doesn’t seem to improve survival or prevent cancer from getting worse. But high doses of vitamin C might increase survival when given by IV.
  • Hardening of the arteries after heart transplant – Early research shows that taking vitamin C and vitamin E for a year after a heart transplant helps prevent hardening of the arteries.
  • Heart disease – Research on the use of vitamin C for heart disease is controversial. More research on the use of vitamin C supplements for preventing heart disease is needed. But increasing intake of vitamin C from food might provide some benefit.
  • Cataracts – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing cataracts. Some early research shows that people who take supplements containing vitamin C for at least 10 years have a lower risk of developing cataracts. But taking supplements containing vitamin C for less time doesn’t seem to help.
  • Cervical cancer – Some early research suggests that taking vitamin C reduces the risk of cervical cancer.
  • Side effects caused by chemotherapy – Early research suggests that higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with fewer chemotherapy side effects in children being treated for leukemia.
  • Damage to the colon due to radiation exposure (chronic radiation proctitis) – Early research suggests that taking vitamin C plus vitamin E might improve some symptoms of chronic radiation proctitis.
  • Kidney problems caused by dyes used during some X-ray exams  – Some research shows that taking vitamin C before and after receiving a contrast agent helps reduce the risk of developing kidney damage. But other research shows that it doesn’t work.
  • Dental plaque – Chewing gum containing vitamin C appears to reduce dental plaque.
  • Depression – Early research shows that taking vitamin C along with the antidepressant drug fluoxetine reduces depression symptoms in children and teens better than fluoxetine alone. But taking vitamin C along with the antidepressant drug citalopram does not reduce depression symptoms in adults better than citalopram alone.
  • Diabetes – Taking vitamin C supplements might improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes. But results are conflicting. Higher intake of vitamin C from food isn’t linked with a lower risk of developing diabetes.
  • Damage to heart caused by the drug doxorubicin – Early research shows that taking vitamin C, vitamin E, and N-acetyl cysteine may reduce heart damage caused by the drug doxorubicin.
  • Cancer of the lining of the uterus (endometrial cancer) – Higher intake of vitamin C from food might be linked with a lower risk of endometrial cancer. But conflicting results exist.
  • Cancer of the esophagus – Taking vitamin C along with beta-carotene plus vitamin E does not reduce the risk of developing esophageal cancer. But higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of esophageal cancer.
  • Asthma caused by exercise – Taking vitamin C might prevent asthma caused by exercise.
  • Gallbladder disease – Taking vitamin C might help to prevent gallbladder disease in women but not men.
  • Stomach cancer – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of stomach cancer in most research. Also, taking vitamin C along with other antioxidants doesn’t seem to prevent stomach cancer. But taking vitamin C supplements might prevent precancerous sores in the stomach from progressing to cancer in people at high risk. This includes people previously treated for H. pylori infection.
  • HIV/AIDS – Taking high or low doses of vitamin C along with other antioxidants doesn’t reduce the amount of HIV in the blood of people with HIV/AIDS.
  • HIV transmission – Taking vitamin C along with vitamin B and vitamin E during pregnancy and breast-feeding seems to reduce the risk of transmitting HIV to the infant.
  • High phosphate levels – People with kidney disease who are undergoing dialysis often have high blood phosphate levels. Giving vitamin C by IV seems to reduce phosphate levels in these people.
  • Hearing loss – Early research shows that vitamin C may improve hearing in people with sudden hearing loss when used with steroid therapy.
  • Infertility – There is early evidence that women with certain fertility problems might benefit from taking vitamin C daily.
  • Mental stress – Early research suggests that vitamin C might reduce blood pressure and symptoms during times of mental stress.
  • • Liver disease not due to alcohol use (nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, NASH) – Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E might reduce liver scarring in people with a type of liver disease called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. But it doesn’t seem to decrease liver swelling.
  • Cancer that affects white blood cells (Non-Hodgkin lymphoma) – Higher intake of vitamin C from foods or supplements is linked with a lower risk of developing non-Hodgkin lymphoma in postmenopausal women.
  • Mouth cancer – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of mouth cancer.
  • Osteoporosis – Some research shows that vitamin C might improve bone strength. But higher vitamin C blood levels in postmenopausal women have been linked to lower bone mineral densities. More information is needed on the effects of vitamin C on bone mineral density.
  • Ovarian cancer – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Parkinson’s disease – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is not linked with a lower risk of Parkinson’s disease.
  • Leg pain associated with poor blood flow (peripheral arterial disease)  – Higher intake of vitamin C from food is linked with a lower risk of developing poor circulation in women but not men.
  • Pneumonia – Some research suggests that vitamin C might reduce the risk of pneumonia, as well as the duration of pneumonia once it develops. This effect seems greatest in those with low vitamin C levels before treatment. It’s not clear if vitamin C is beneficial in people with normal vitamin C levels.
  • Pain after surgery – Taking vitamin C one hour after anesthesia reduces the need for morphine after surgery. This suggests that it might reduce pain. But vitamin C doesn’t seem to improve satisfaction or the need to use the pain-relieving drug paracetamol.
  • Complications during pregnancy – Taking vitamin C alone during pregnancy might help prevent the amniotic sac from breaking before labor begins. But taking vitamin C with other supplements doesn’t seem to help. Also, taking vitamin C, alone or with other supplements, does not prevent many other pregnancy complications including preterm birth, miscarriage, stillbirth, and others.
  • Breaking of the amniotic sac before labor begins (premature rupture of membranes; PROM) – Taking vitamin C plus vitamin E starting during the second or third trimester and continuing until delivery seems to help delay delivery in pregnant women whose amniotic sacs broke early.
  • Bed sores (pressure ulcers) – Some research suggests that taking vitamin C does not improve wound healing in people with pressure ulcers. But other research shows that taking vitamin C reduces the size of pressure ulcers.
  • Restless legs syndrome –  Taking vitamin C alone or in combination with vitamin E seems to reduce the severity of restless legs syndrome in people undergoing hemodialysis. But it’s not known if vitamin C is beneficial in people with restless legs syndrome that is not related to hemodialysis.
  • Sickle cell disease – Taking vitamin C with aged garlic extract and vitamin E might benefit people with sickle cell disease.
  • Stroke – Higher intake of vitamin C from food seems to be linked with a reduced risk of stroke. But conflicting results exist. Taking vitamin C supplements doesn’t seem to be linked with a reduced risk of stroke.
  • Bacterial infection in the nervous system (tetanus) – Taking vitamin C along with conventional treatment appears to reduce the risk of death in children with tetanus.
  • Urinary tract infections (UTI) – Research suggests that taking vitamin C does not prevent UTIs in older people.
  • Mental decline caused by reduced blood flow to the brain (vascular dementia) – Higher intake of vitamin C and vitamin E from supplements does not seem to be linked with a reduced risk of vascular dementia in Japanese-American men.
  • Acne
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)
  • Constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dental cavities
  • Kidney disease
  • Lyme disease
  • Tuberculosis
  • Wounds
  • Other conditions
IllnessVitamin C Dosage (mg)Helps
Common cold200prevent
Cataracts300prevent
Coronary heart disease400prevent
Age-related macular degeneration500prevent
Gout500prevent
Cardiovascular disease500treat
Exercise-induced asthma500treat
Lead toxicity1,000treat

Sources: The Linus Pauling Institute, Mayo Clinic, and NIH

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Vitamin C; Types, Deficiency Symptoms

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