How Much Vitamin C is Enough?

Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid) is a nutrient that is important for keeping several body processes running smoothly. For example, it boosts immune system health, collagen production, and wound healing. It is also an antioxidant that protects your cells from damage done by free radicals.

Unlike other animals, humans cannot produce vitamin C, so they must obtain it from foods and supplements.

This article will outline how much vitamin C is the right amount and how much is too much.

What is the right amount of vitamin C?
The Institute of Medicine (IOM) provides the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C. The total amount recommended is from both foods and supplements. The RDA is a guideline that suits 97-98% of healthy individuals.

According to the RDA, the recommended amount of vitamin C per day varies based on factors such as your sex, age, and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • 1-3 years old: 15 milligrams (mg) per day
  • 4-8 years old: 25 mg per day
  • 9-13 years old: 45 mg per day
  • 14-18 years old: 65-75 mg per day
  • Men age 19 and over: 90 mg
  • Women age 19 and over: 75 mg
  • Pregnant women age 19 and over: 85 mg
  • Breastfeeding women age 19 and over: 120 mg

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has developed a recommended Daily Value (DV) for vitamin C. The FDA recommends that children and adults age four and over get 90 mg of vitamin C per day.

How much is too much vitamin C?
While vitamin C is not likely to be toxic in high levels for healthy individuals, it can cause negative gastrointestinal side effects such as cramps, nausea, and diarrhea.

In people who have hemochromatosis, which causes your body to retain large amounts of iron, the condition can be made worse if you consume too much vitamin C. This is because high levels of vitamin C increase the amount of non-heme iron in your body.

In addition to the RDA, the IOM has also devised Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for vitamin C:

  • 1-3 years old: 400 mg per day
  • 4-8 years old: 650 mg per day
  • 9-13 years old: 1,200 mg per day
  • 14-18 years old: 1,800 mg per day
  • 19 years old or older: 2,000 mg per day

Now that you know the lower and upper limits of recommended vitamin C intake, you can adjust your diet and supplement intake as needed according to your age and sex and whether you are pregnant or breastfeeding.