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How much vitamin C should you take?

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) includes the vitamin C you get from both the food you eat and any supplements you take.

Category

Vitamin C: Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

For children under 1, only an adequate intake (AI) is available

CHILDREN

0-6 months

40 mg/day

Adequate Intake (AI)

7-12 months

50 mg/day

Adequate Intake (AI)

1-3 years

15 mg/day

4-8 years

25 mg/day

9-13 years

45 mg/day

FEMALES

14 to 18 years

65 mg/day

19 years and up

75 mg/day

Pregnant

18 years and under: 80 mg/day

19 years and over: 85 mg/day

Breastfeeding

18 years and under: 115 mg/day

19 years and over: 120 mg/day

MALES

14 to 18 years

75 mg/day

19 years and up

90 mg/day

Although many people take much higher doses of vitamin C, it's not clear that high doses have any benefit. Some studies have found that doses above 200 milligrams are not utilized by the body. Instead, the extra vitamin C is excreted in urine.

The tolerable upper intake levels of a supplement are the highest amount that most people can take safely. Higher doses might be used to treat vitamin C deficiencies. But don't take more unless a doctor says so.

Category

(Children & Adults)

Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) of Vitamin C

1-3 years

400 mg/day

4-8 years

650 mg/day

9-13 years

1,200 mg/day

14-18 years

1,800 mg/day

19 years and up

2,000 mg/day

Can you get vitamin C naturally from foods?

Many people get enough vitamin C from their diets. All fruits and vegetables have some vitamin C. Some of the best sources are:

  • Green peppers
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes

Light and heat can reduce vitamin C levels. Fresh and uncooked fruits and vegetables have the most vitamin C.

What are the risks of taking vitamin C?

  • Side effects. At recommended doses, vitamin C supplements are safe. However, they can cause upset stomach, heartburn, cramps, and headaches in some people. High doses of vitamin C can cause more intense symptoms, such as kidney stones and severe diarrhea.
  • Interactions. If you take any other regular medicines, ask your doctor if it's safe to take vitamin C. It can interact with drugs like aspirin, acetaminophen, antacids, and blood thinners. Nicotine may reduce the effects of vitamin C.
  • Risks. People who are pregnant or have gout, liver disease, kidney disease, and other chronic diseases should check with a doctor before using high doses of vitamin C supplements.

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