Vitamin C: Sources, deficiency, supplements & toxicity

Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient. It plays an important role in the development and functioning of several bodily structures and processes.

It also helps in;

  • Protecting and keeping cells healthy.
  • Maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage.
  • Wound healing.





Vitamin C is less common in animal foods. It is found in most fruits and vegetables. Rich sources include;

  • Citrus fruits eg. Orange, lemons 
  • Papaya 
  • Guava 
  • Blackcurrant 
  • Kale
  • Brussels sprouts 
  • Green and red peppers
  • Strawberries
  • Broccoli 


Other good sources;

  • Pineapple 
  • Grapefruit 
  • Mango
  • Blackberry
  • Lime






The human body cannot synthesize enough vitamin and so it needs to come from food sources, especially fruits and vegetables or fortified foods. Severe lack of this nutrient will result in scurvy.





Although vitamin C is in larger amount in citrus fruits and juices, it is also available as tablets, capsules and in multivitamins.

People who may need extra vitamin as supplements include :

  • Pregnant & breastfeeding women.
  • Chronic cigarette smokers.
  • People recovering from surgery.
  • Burn victims





In spite of its capabilities, high doses of the supplements can cause troubling symptoms like;

  • Headache 
  • Insomnia 
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn


This group of vitamins should be consumed with caution and only as required. Studies have shown an increase in kidney stones among men who consume large amounts of the supplements.






  • Vitamin C – Fact sheet for health professionals. Office of Dietary Supplements.
  • Andrew Weil – Vitamins & Minerals [1994]
  • Beth Ann, Petro Roybal, Gayle Skowronski – Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
  • Vitamin C – Natural Medicines.



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