Vitamins are the widest group of nutrients, and perhaps the most well-known representative of this group is vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid. As with almost all vitamins, your body cannot produce vitamin C on its own, so you need to obtain it from food sources or through supplementation.
Besides that, vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning your body can’t store it and you need a new dose of this substance every day for proper functioning.
This guide will provide you with a list of the best vitamin C supplements on the market, along with an explanation as to why this chemical is so crucial to your well-being.
- 1 5 Best Vitamin C Supplements for the Money
- 1.1 Viva Naturals Vitamin C Caps
- 1.2 Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C Packets
- 1.3 Airborne Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets
- 1.4 American Health Vitamin C Caps
- 1.5 Nature’s Way Vitamin C Caps
- 1.6 What Does Vitamin C Do in Your Body?
- 1.7 Stages of Vitamin C Deficiency Explained
- 1.8 What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin C?
- 1.9 Which Supplement Form of Vitamin C Is Best for Taking?
- 1.10 Proven Health Benefits of Vitamin C
- 1.11 Dosage, Safety and Side Effects
- 1.12 Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?
5 Best Vitamin C Supplements for the Money
Viva Naturals Vitamin C Caps
Viva Naturals claims that it’s one of the world’s leading vitamins providers and offers you the best vitamin C supplement.
One serving of Viva Naturals contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C in a vegan-friendly shell, which is more than enough to reach your daily intake and is additionally packed with citrus bioflavonoids and rose hips for fighting oxidative damage and improving your immunity.
Another great thing is that the whole package of this supplement will last you for more than eight months! A great deal for those who require long-term supplementation.
Lypo-Spheric Vitamin C Packets
Lypo-Spheric provides you with an unusual method of vitamin C delivery — phospholipids. Phospholipids are compounds that build cell membranes, particularly in the liver. Thus, by taking this supplement, you can help your liver detox and repair faster.
The Lypo-Spheric vitamin C supplement comes in the form of powder you need to mix with your favorite cold beverage (a glass of morning juice or plain water will do). Note that it won’t dissolve completely because of the lipid part and must be taken on an empty stomach 15 minutes before the meal.
One packet contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C along with the same amount of phospholipids, while one package contains 30 packets, which should be enough for one month.
Airborne Vitamin C Effervescent Tablets
When we’re talking about Airborne, we’re talking about the best vitamin C supplement in the form of effervescent tablets. In fact, this is a multivitamin complex that contains other essential vitamins and minerals along with adaptogenic herbs for boosting your immunity and alleviating stress.
The great thing about the effervescent formula — besides that fun fizz it makes while dissolving — is that it allows for instant absorption. Plus, starting your day with a glass of vitamin-enriched orange soda is refreshing.
One package contains 30 tablets with 1,000 mg of vitamin C each, which should last for a month. However, the manufacturer also allows you to choose between 25 and 36 counts.
The only issue with this supplement is that gelatine is presented as one of the ingredients, so the final product isn’t suitable for vegans.
American Health Vitamin C Caps
American Health offers you another vitamin C blend with bioflavonoids for fighting free radicals and improving your immunity. This supplement has 1,000 mg of ascorbic acid per 2 capsules, thereby allowing you to vary the dosage.
Depending on your intake, this 240 count bottle may last you from 3 to 6 months. However, you can also choose the option with 1 gram of vitamin C per 1 capsule, as well as different packages from 90 to 360 caps.
The most prominent feature of the American Health vitamin C is that it won’t provoke heartburn or reflux thanks to its manufacturing process that results in a neutral pH. However, it cannot be considered vegan-friendly, as one of the ingredients is gelatin.
Nature’s Way Vitamin C Caps
Nature’s Way is one of the best vitamin C supplements produced and bottled in the USA. One package offers you 250 servings of pure vitamin C with rose hips, for improved absorption and immune system boost.
One capsule of Nature’s Way delivers 1000 mg of vitamin C that you need to take with food. The product is third-party tested, so you don’t need to worry about its quality and efficiency.
The only issue with this manufacturer is that, although the capsules are gluten-free, they’re not vegan because of the presence of gelatine.
What Does Vitamin C Do in Your Body?
Ascorbic acid is crucial for a lot of bodily functions, but the most pronounced of them are the following:
- Collagen synthesis. Collagen is a key component of your skin, joints, blood vessels, ligaments, and connective tissue. Vitamin C helps build collagen molecules and integrate them where they need to be.
- Wound healing. Collagen is also required to form scar tissue, so taking vitamin C may speed up the regeneration process.
- Fighting oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is the exposure of body cells to free radicals, which may result in different chronic illnesses, including cancer. Vitamin C, along with some other nutrients, has great antioxidant properties and will help your body fight oxidative stress and recover from it.
“Interesting fact: Vitamin C may also be used for treating seasickness. A study published in the Journal of Vestibular Research reported that those who were taking vitamin C supplements showed less pronounced levels of seasickness, compared with the placebo group.”
Stages of Vitamin C Deficiency Explained
Since ascorbic acid is an abundant substance found in many foods, people who maintain a balanced diet are unlikely to get severe or total vitamin C deficiency. However, some groups of individuals are more prone to develop mild to moderate depletion:
- Smokers. Smoking increases oxidative damage, meaning your body needs more antioxidants to neutralize it, including vitamin C. Passive smokers are also at risk.
- Alcoholics. Consuming large amounts of alcohol increases the excretion of important micronutrients with the urine.
- Infants fed with cow’s milk. The best source of nutrients for a newborn baby is the mother’s milk, and doctors strongly advise to not feed the child with its alternatives if possible. However, in developing countries feeding infants with evaporated cow’s milk is still an average practice, which may cause vitamin C deficiency.
- People with chronic conditions. Cancer patients, people with cachexia or individuals who go through hemodialysis, may have vitamin C depletion.
Vitamin C deficiency isn’t something you may instantly notice. But you can pay attention to the following symptoms to find out if you have it:
- frequent episodes of fatigue;
- pain in limbs;
- impaired wound healing;
- nosebleeds and bleeding gums;
- dry and wrinkled skin;
- weak immunity.
Severe or total vitamin C deficiency results in a condition called scurvy. It develops in people who consume 10 mg of vitamin C or less for at least three months.
Initially, scurvy was common among sailors, who didn’t get enough fruits and vegetables during long sails. However, today this condition may occur in people who have a poor diet, such as those living in poverty or the homeless.
Symptoms of scurvy usually include:
- teeth loss;
- brittle nails;
- ingrown hair;
- easy bruising;
- bulgy eyes.
In children, scurvy may result in growth stunt because low levels of ascorbic acid may lead to premature hardening of growth plates in femur or humerus bones.
Scurvy is a potentially deadly disease because it poses such complications as chronic anemia and increased risks of a heart attack.
However, it’s also relatively easy to treat when diagnosed. Supplementation with vitamin C (or intravenous injections for severe cases) usually provide complete recovery in 3-4 months.
What Are the Best Sources of Vitamin C?
If you’re searching for vitamin C in lemon, you are right — it contains about 45 mg in one fruit. The thing is, only a few people can eat the whole lemon with pleasure. And to meet your daily intake, you need to eat two or three.
Good news is that there are plenty of vitamin C foods that will allow you to easily maintain healthy levels of ascorbic acid in your body. See for yourself:
- bell peppers (red and yellow) — 100-144 mg per ½ cup;
- broccoli — 54 mg per ½ cup;
- red cabbage — 20 mg per ½ cup;
- tomato — 17 mg per 1 fruit;
- kiwifruit — 84 mg per 1 fruit;
- orange — 59-83 mg per 1 fruit;
- strawberries — 52 mg per ½ cup;
- mango — 38 mg per ½ fruit.
Note that ascorbic acid is heat-sensitive and long heat processing may destroy it. Try to eat raw fruits and vegetables, or at least use steaming or short-term roasting.
Which Supplement Form of Vitamin C Is Best for Taking?
Choosing the best form of supplementation with ascorbic acid usually depends on your comfort. The most widely used types of this supplement are pills, gummies, and effervescent tablets. The list below will help you familiarize yourself with their main pros and cons:
- Vitamin C pills. The most common form of any supplements, pills are great because they contain a precise dose and can help you stock up for months. Also, tablets allow people with specific dietary needs, i.e. vegans or gluten intolerant people, to choose from a variety of options for them. However, sometimes pills appear to be very large and hard to swallow.
- Vitamin C effervescent tablets. These tablets are fizzy and funny, as they turn your average morning glass of water into beneficial soda. But they are pricier, compared with standard pills, and may provoke heartburn in some people.
- Vitamin C gummies. Gummies with delicious taste and appealing flavor are the easiest way to encourage children (and some adults too) to eat vitamins. However, they often appear to be the most expensive on the market and aren’t vegan-friendly, because gelatin used.
- Vitamin C packets. Sachets with water-soluble powder or liquid are easy to carry around and drink if you forgot to do this at home.
Proven Health Benefits of Vitamin C
The popularity of ascorbic acid among healthy living devotees has one definite advantage:
This chemical is widely researched around the world.
Below you’ll find a list of vitamin C benefits proven by numerous studies, along with our debunking of some common misconceptions.
Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from oxidative damage and free radicals. There are plenty of antioxidants in your body, and ascorbic acid is one of them.
A study published in Hindawi confirms that vitamin C can reduce the markers of lipid peroxidation in blood serum, thereby decreasing inflammation. The participants of the study took 2 grams of ascorbic acid per day split into four 500 mg doses.
Helps With Collagen Synthesis
The ability to improve collagen production is perhaps the most well-known and well-researched effect of vitamin C.
This nutrient is needed to transform amino acids that create collagen molecule. When you’re low on ascorbic acid, this may lead to a decline in collagen production, which results in the following:
- early and more pronounced wrinkles;
- dull skin;
- hair loss;
- brittle nails;
- slow wound healing.
A systematic review published in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine examined 286 different studies and concluded that taking ascorbic acid may be beneficial for bone fracture healing and ligaments reconstruction.
That’s why if you’re taking collagen and think that you need more pronounced effects, try taking vitamin C supplements for skin. According to science, the effects may become visible in the first 2-3 weeks.
Improves Iron Absorption
Iron is an essential micronutrient your body uses to maintain healthy hemoglobin levels and produce new red blood cells. Chronic iron depletion (anemia) can be common in people who follow a vegetarian diet and obtain non-heme iron from plants. Non-heme iron is harder to absorb, which may result in an inability to meet adequate daily intake of this mineral.
Vitamin С can help your body improve the absorption of non-heme iron by converting it to a more bioavailable form.
Moreover, a study conducted on Chinese children with mild anemia showed that taking only vitamin C supplements, without iron supplementation, may help control anemia and improve iron absorption from food sources.
Vitamin C is involved in many processes that occur in your immune system, in particular:
- it promotes the production of white blood cells — primarily lymphocytes and phagocytes — that help combat infections;
- it protects white blood cells from stress and helps them function correctly;
- it strengthens skin defense barriers.
A University of Helsinki meta-analysis suggests that taking vitamin C supplements may reduce the severity and complications of such respiratory diseases as pneumonia and lower pneumonia mortality rates in older people.
However, if you think that taking ascorbic acid will prevent you from catching a common cold, it’s not true. This theory appeared in the 40s by Linus Pauling, a German scientist. Later studies showed that ascorbic acid doesn’t have a significant impact on the possibility to catch a cold but may shorten the recovery time if you’re already ill.
Aids in Cardiovascular Health
Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of death in America and around the world. They have plenty of risk factors, one of them being high cholesterol levels. The great thing is that the antioxidant properties of vitamin C may be a promising cure.
According to a 2004 meta-analysis of 9 cohort studies with 293,172 participants in total, people who took at least 700 mg of ascorbic acid daily lowered the risks of getting coronary heart disease by 25%.
The Journal of Chiropractic Medicine published a review of 13 trials which concluded that taking at least 500 mg of vitamin C for at least four weeks resulted in the decrease of low-density lipoproteins (a.k.a ‘bad’ cholesterol) in blood serum.
May Prevent Cognitive Impairment
Chronic stress and oxidative damage typically trigger inflammation processes in your body. These processes can impact any organ or system in your body, and the brain is no exception. Scientists link inflammation flares near the brain with developing of early dementia and memory impairment.
Moreover, people who experience difficulties with memorizing things or impaired ability to form thoughts may have lower levels of vitamin C in their blood.
Vitamin C, thanks to its antioxidant properties, might be a promising way to treat inflammation in nerves and brain and prevent beta-amyloid waste from building up. However, more research is needed for better evaluation of how ascorbic acid performs in long-term treatment.
Dosage, Safety and Side Effects
Proper dosage of vitamin C is based on your age and gender. Adult women usually need less vitamin C per day than men, but during pregnancy and breastfeeding their daily intake should be increased.
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), the recommended dietary allowances of vitamin C for different age groups are as follows:
- 0-6 months — 40 mg;
- 7-12 months — 50 mg;
- 1-3 years — 15 mg;
- 4-8 years — 25 mg;
- 9-13 years — 45 mg;
- 14-18 years — 75 mg for men and 65 mg for women;
- 19+ years — 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
“If you smoke, you may also need more ascorbic acid in your diet. The NIH recommends smokers adding at least 30-35 mg to their daily intake.”
However, research shows that high doses of vitamin C (up to 2,000 mg per day) are absolutely tolerable in healthy individuals.
Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?
The short answer is no.
Vitamin C toxicity is very low when taken in adequate amounts; even if you take up to 2 grams per day, the excess will excrete through urine. However, people with a sensitive stomach may experience the most common side effect of vitamin C, which is digestive distress. Usually, it manifests with the following symptoms:
- abdominal pain;
These symptoms may show when you consume 2 grams of ascorbic acid at once. To avoid them, take your supplements responsibly or choose the supplements that offer servings with lower ascorbic acid amounts.
A high dose of vitamin C may also do more harm than good in specific categories of people, such as:
- People with renal disorders. Scientists believe that high doses of vitamin C may increase the concentration of uric acid and may lead to the formation of oxalate crystals in the kidneys.
- People with hemochromatosis. Vitamin C can bind with the non-heme iron, which is found in plant foods. Hemochromatosis is a condition that may lead to excessive iron accumulation inside your body, and consuming high doses of ascorbic acid may result in an iron overdose.
- People with allergies. Ascorbic acid is an active chemical and may trigger an allergic reaction in some individuals.
“Some studies show that high doses of vitamin C may act like pro-oxidant and increase the risk of oxidative damage and certain types of cancer.”
Thus, if you’re concerned about how much vitamin C you should take, the best answer would be to get an appointment with your doctor and ask for their recommendation. They can prescribe you the optimal dosage of this nutrient, considering your health condition, age, gender, and other factors.
Vitamin C is an essential substance, and your body needs it for a lot of physiological processes. It participates in collagen synthesis, helps combat hypertension, improves the absorption of other micronutrients and may even prevent cognitive decline.
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C cannot prevent the common cold; however, it can boost your immunity and speed up the recovery time.
Vitamin C, like all water-soluble vitamins, cannot be stored in your body, which is why you need to obtain it from food. Although severe vitamin C depletion (scurvy) is a rare thing in developed countries, some groups of individuals — such as smokers, people with malabsorption or those who have a poor diet — may require additional supplementation with this substance.