Health Library

Vitamin C

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

  • Ascorbate, ascorbic acid

Introduction

Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, sweet peppers, and broccoli. The body uses vitamin C to make important tissues. Vitamin C has been used to help the body fight off illness, improve heart health, and strengthen bones. It is effective for treating scurvy (vitamin C deficiency).

It can be taken as a pill or powder. It can also be applied to the skin. Vitamin C can also be injected into the muscle and bloodstream by a healthcare provider.

Dosages

75 milligrams per day for adult men and 90 milligrams per day for adult women

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

May Be Effective

May Not Be Effective

  • Age-related macular degeneration—may not prevent or delay onset B1
  • Cardiovascular disease —may not lower risk E1, E2
  • Cognitive function—may not provide benefit G1-G3
  • Diabetic kidney disease—may improve early kidney damage K1
  • Female subfertility—may not provide benefit L1
  • Lipid profile —may not change profile O1
  • Miscarriage—may not prevent P1
  • Pregnancy support —may not provide benefit R1-R3

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take vitamin C in small doses for a short time. Large doses may not be safe. Not enough studies have been done to say whether it is safe to take for a long period. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take large doses of vitamin C.

Interactions

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse.

References

REFA
Age-Related Cataract

REFA1
Mathew MC, Ervin AM, et al. Antioxidant vitamin supplementation for preventing and slowing the progression of age-related cataract. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Jun 13;(6):CD004567.

REFA2
Wei L, Liang G, et al. Association of vitamin C with the risk of age-related cataract: a meta-analysis. Acta Ophthalmol. 2016 May;94(3):e170-176.

REFB
Age-Related Macular Degeneration

REFB1
Evans JR, Lawrenson JG. Antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplements for preventing age-related macular degeneration. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 30;7:CD000253.

REFC
Alzheimer Disease

REFC1
Li FJ, Shen L, et al. Dietary intakes of vitamin E, vitamin C, and β-carotene and risk of Alzheimer's disease: a meta-analysis. J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;31(2):253-258.

REFD
Asthma

REFD1
Milan SJ, Hart A, et al. Vitamin C for asthma and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(10):CD010391.

REFE
Cardiovascular Disease

REFE1
Sesso HD, Buring JE, et al. Vitamins E and C in the prevention of cardiovascular disease in men: the Physicians’ Health Study II randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2008;200(18):2123-2133.

REFE2
Al-Khudairy L, Flowers N, et al. Vitamin C supplementation for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Mar 16;3:CD011114.

REFF
Chronic Gout

REFF1
Andrés M, Sivera F, et al. Dietary supplements for chronic gout. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014 Oct 7;(10):CD010156.

REFG
Cognitive Function

REFG1
Butler M, Nelson VA, et al. Over-the-Counter Supplement Interventions to Prevent Cognitive Decline, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Clinical Alzheimer-Type Dementia: A Systematic Review. Ann Intern Med. 2018 Jan 2;168(1):52-62.

REFG2
McCleery J, Abraham RP, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation for preventing dementia or delaying cognitive decline in people with mild cognitive impairment. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Nov 1;11:CD011905.

REFG3
Rutjes AW, Denton DA, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation for maintaining cognitive function in cognitively healthy people in mid and late life. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Dec 17;12:CD011906.

REFH
Common Cold

REFH1
Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;(1):CD000980.

REFH2
Ran L, Zhao W, et al. Extra Dose of Vitamin C Based on a Daily Supplementation Shortens the Common Cold: A Meta-Analysis of 9 randomized controlled trials. Biomed Res Int. 2018:1837834.

REFH3
Gómez E, Quidel S, et al. Does vitamin C prevent the common cold? Medwave. 2018;18(4):e7235.

REFH4
Quidel S, Gómez E, et al. What are the effects of vitamin C on the duration and severity of the common cold? Medwave. 2018;18(6):e7261.

REFI
Complex Regional Pain Syndrome

REFI1
Zillinger PE, Tuinerbrejjer WE, et al. Can vitamin C prevent complex regional pain syndrome in patients with wrist fractures? A randomized, controlled, multicenter dose-dependent study. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2007;89(7):1424-1431.

REFI2
Chen S, Roffey DM, et al. Effect of Perioperative Vitamin C Supplementation on Postoperative Pain and the Incidence of Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Clin J Pain. 2016 Feb;32(2):179-185.

REFI3
Aïm F, Klouche S, et al. Efficacy of vitamin C in preventing complex regional pain syndrome after wrist fracture: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Orthop Traumatol Surg Res. 2017 May;103(3):465-470.

REFJ
Diabetes

REFJ1
Tabatabaei-Malazy O, Nikfar S, et al. Influence of ascorbic acid supplementation on type 2 diabetes mellitus in observational and randomized controlled trials; a systematic review with meta-analysis. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2014;17(4):554-582.

REFJ2
Khodaeian M, Tabatabaei-Malazy O, et al. Effect of vitamins C and E on insulin resistance in diabetes: a meta-analysis study. Eur J Clin Invest. 2015 Nov;45(11):1161-1174.

REFJ3
Ashor AW, Werner AD, et al. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on glycaemic control: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017;71(12):1371-1380.

REFK
Diabetic Kidney Disease

REFK1
Bolignano D, Cernaro V, et al. Antioxidant agents for delaying diabetic kidney disease progression: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017 Jun 1;12(6):e0178699.

REFL
Female Subfertility

REFL1
Showell MG, Mackenzie-Proctor R, et al. Antioxidants for female subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 28;7:CD007807.

REFM
Heart Surgery Support

REFM1
Hemilä H, Suonsyrjä T. Vitamin C for preventing atrial fibrillation in high risk patients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Cardiovasc Disord. 2017;17(1):10.

REFM2
Hu X, Yuan L, et al. Efficacy and safety of vitamin C for atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: A meta-analysis with trial sequential analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Surg. 2017 Jan;37:58-64.

REFM3
Shi R, Li ZH, et al. Sole and combined vitamin C supplementation can prevent postoperative atrial fibrillation after cardiac surgery: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clin Cardiol. 2018;41(6):871-878.

REFN
High Blood Pressure

REFN1
Juraschek SP, Guallar E, et al. Effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Am J Clin Nutr.2012;95(5):1079-1088.

REFO
Lipid Profile

REFO1
Ashor AW, Siervo M, et al. Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials testing the effects of vitamin C supplementation on blood lipids. Clin Nutr. 2016 Jun;35(3):626-637.

REFP
Miscarriage

REFP1
Balogun OO, da Silva Lopes K, et al. Vitamin supplementation for preventing miscarriage. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 May 6;(5):CD004073.

REFQ
Pneumonia

REFQ1
Hemilä H, Louhiala P. Vitamin C for preventing and treating pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013 Aug 8;(8):CD005532.

DEFR
Pregnancy Support

REFR1
Swaney P, Thorp J, et al. Vitamin C supplementation in pregnancy--does it decrease rates of preterm birth? A systematic review. Am J Perinatol. 2014 Feb;31(2):91-98.

REFR2
Rumbold A, Ota E, et al. Vitamin C supplementation in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015;(9):CD004072.

REFR3
Zhou K, West HM, et al. Interventions for leg cramps in pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Aug 11;(8):CD010655.

REFS
Stroke

REFS1
Chen GC, Lu DB, et al. Vitamin C intake, circulating vitamin C and risk of stroke: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. J Am Heart Assoc. 2013 Nov 27;2(6):e000329.

REFT
Upper Respiratory Tract Infection in Children

REFT1
Vorilhon P, Arpajou B, et al. Efficacy of vitamin C for the prevention and treatment of upper respiratory tract infection. A meta-analysis in children. Eur J Clin Pharmacol. 2019 Mar;75(3):303-311.

REFU
Urinary Tract Infections in Pregnancy

REFU1
Ghouri F, Hollywood A, et al. A systematic review of non-antibiotic measures for the prevention of urinary tract infections in pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018 Apr 13;18(1):99.

  • EBSCO NAT Review Board
  • 202206