Know Your Nutrients: Vitamin C

What is Vitamin C?
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has a number of different health benefits. It functions as an antioxidant, helping to protect your cells and tissue from oxidative damage. Oxidative damage has been shown to lead to the development of a number of chronic diseases such as cancer, cataracts and heart disease.

What are some of the benefits of vitamin C?
Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron, therefore helping in the prevention of anemia. Vitamin C also helps maintain healthy bones, teeth, cartilage and gums, and plays a part in keeping your immune system strong. If you catch a cold, research has shown that it can help you fight the symptoms and lessen their duration.

What are the best food sources of vitamin C?
Vitamin C is one of the reasons why it’s so important to make fruits and vegetables a regular part of your daily diet! It can be found in the following:

  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, limes, and lemons
  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Cauliflower

How much vitamin C do I need each day?
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, meaning that our bodies cannot produce it, so we can only attain it through diet or supplements.

When it comes to adequate levels of vitamin C intake, it’s important to remember that there is a range of nutrient intake between minimum and maximum that Health Canada has identified as healthy and safe, and it all depends on what health benefits you are looking for:

  • Minimum daily vitamin C intake: 75 mg/day *
  • Maximum daily vitamin C intake: 2,000 mg/day

*This is the minimum amount required to prevent deficiency and is equivalent to eating 1 ½ oranges daily.

Health benefits like immune system and antioxidant support require a daily intake of vitamin C that exceeds the minimum. A vitamin C supplement can help you achieve a higher intake, which may be especially important for those who do not regularly consume the recommended 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, as well as for added immune protection during cold and flu season.

When should I take my vitamin C supplement?
Vitamin C is water soluble, meaning your body absorbs what it needs throughout the day. To get the maximum amount, it’s important to spread your doses throughout the day.

For example:

  • Choose a 500 mg supplement and take two to four times daily, or
  • Choose a time-released formula at a higher dose for convenience, as it will allow small quantities of vitamin C to be released over a period of six to eight hours

Are there any supplements I should avoid taking with vitamin C?
Vitamin C can be safely taken alongside many other natural health products. It is best to consult a healthcare practitioner prior to use if you are taking analgesics/anti-inflammatory drugs (high dose aspirin), anticoagulants (warfarin), chemotherapeutic agents, or estrogens (hormone replacement therapy or contraceptives).


  • Douglas RM, Chalker EB & Tracey B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2000; 34(2): CD000980.
  • Hemila H & Douglas RM. Vitamin C supplementation and common cold symptoms: factors affecting the magnitude of benefit. Med Hypotheses, 1999; 52(2): 171-178.

Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Winter is the perfect time for some immune-boosting homemade soup, made with vitamin C-rich cauliflower. Each cup of cauliflower provides a whopping 125 milligrams of vitamin C.

Fit a steamer basket over a saucepan with a few inches of water in the bottom. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add 5 cups of chopped cauliflower to the basket. Cover, and steam for 10 minutes, until cauliflower is tender.

  1. Add 2 cups of chicken or vegetable broth and 6 ounces of silken tofu into a blender.
  2. Then add steamed cauliflower, ½ tsp of garlic powder, and 4 ounces of cheddar cheese. 
  3. Cover and turn on the blender, processing until smooth and heated through.
  4. Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from:

Note: The information provided here is intended solely as a guideline and is not meant to treat, cure or prevent any condition or disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner prior to using any natural health product.