Meet Your Recommended Nutrient Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that your body cannot manufacture on its own, so you must get it from your diet. It is available in many healthy foods, including citrus fruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, as well as in supplemental form as capsules or tablets. Most people can meet their recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vitamin C by eating a balanced diet.

In addition to its immune-boosting properties, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. It helps protect the body’s cells from damage by neutralizing free radicals and may help prevent some forms of cancer. Several studies indicate that getting enough vitamin C in the form of natural food or dietary supplements might help reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of common colds.

Research has also shown that vitamin C is an important nutrient for the formation of collagen, an essential protein used in the formation of skin, tendons and ligaments. In addition, it is needed for iron absorption and plays a role in the production of inflammatory chemicals that are involved in fighting certain conditions, such as gout.

Vitamin C may also improve the effectiveness of some anticancer drugs and enhance recovery from surgery. It appears to help prevent some cancer cell mutations and increase the activity of leukocytes, which are cells in the immune system that fight germs. In a study published in the journal “Free Radical Biology & Medicine,” scientists found that high doses of vitamin C might significantly decrease C-reactive protein, a measure of the inflammation in the body, and could even slow tumor growth.

However, it is not clear whether the use of dietary supplements can achieve these results and should not be considered as a replacement for medical care. In addition, some people should not take vitamin C, including those who are receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy to treat cancer. It is also not known how much vitamin C can interact with other drugs or dietary supplements that contain iron.

Although deficiency of vitamin C is rare in the United States, it can occur in those who eat a poor diet that includes few fruits and vegetables or who smoke or are exposed to secondhand smoke. Severe deficiency can lead to scurvy, which causes weakness, anemia, bruising and bleeding gums.