You Might Need More Vitamin C Than You Think

You Might Need More Vitamin C Than You Think

Scientifically reviewed by: Michael A. Smith, MD

Discovered in 1937, vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid, and it has been linked to everything from supporting our immune system and cardiovascular health to helping rejuvenate our skin. But are we getting enough?

A new study took a closer look at the daily recommendations for vitamin C we've been following for generations—they were initially established in the 1940s, with the goal of fending off scurvy. According to The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the 45 mg a day recommended eight decades ago is just not sufficient, given what we now know about this essential nutrient.

How much vitamin C do we need every day?

The NIH proposes doubling the original recommendation for men, advising 90 mg of the vitamin per day. In comparison, women's daily intake of vitamin C should be closer to 75 mg to benefit from the full effects of vitamin C.

Not only does this new recommendation vary according to sex, it also differentiates the needs of smokers compared to non-smokers, since people who consume tobacco tend to have less vitamin C in their systems due to higher levels of oxidative stress. So, it's recommended that smokers add another 35 mg each day on top of what's recommended based on their gender.

The health benefits of vitamin C

Fresh-squeezing grapefruit as a vitamin C source

An important antioxidant, vitamin C supports the immune system and has been shown to not only shorten the duration of the common cold but help reduce the severity of colds. It has also been shown to fight oxidative stress and support the cardiovascular system, especially the heart.

Vitamin C has even been linked to longevity, and who doesn't want to live a longer, healthier life? But wait, there's even more. Vitamin C plays a vital role in collagen synthesis, which means smoother, healthier-looking skin.

Which foods have the most vitamin C?

There's plenty of vitamin C out there, and it looks like the more we get, the better off we can be. So where can you find it naturally?

The answer is not that surprising: fruits and vegetables have the highest concentration of vitamin C. What is surprising is that oranges are not on top of that list!

The honor of having the most vitamin C per serving is guavas. Kiwi, bell peppers and strawberries also have higher vitamin C levels than oranges. Who knew?

Is it safe to take vitamin C every day?

Woman jogging outside in cold weather

You know that saying, "Too much of a good thing…" Luckily, this doesn't quite apply to vitamin C. Our bodies can only absorb so much of the vitamin, so most of the excess amounts will be passed by our system. But according to the Mayo Clinic, 2,000 mg a day should be your maximum intake.

 

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The Life Extension Health News team delivers accurate information about vitamins, nutrition and aging. Our stories rely on multiple, authoritative sources and experts. We keep our content accurate and trustworthy, by submitting it to a medical reviewer.