Vitamin C is one of the vitamins that most people feel like they understand. It’s good for immunity, and you get it from oranges, right? Well, according to Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN, vitamin C isn’t as simple as we might think. There are actually a lot of misconceptions about this essential vitamin, but thankfully, we’re clearing up the top three.
Myth 1: You only need 75 milligrams per day
The recommended intake for vitamin C, according to the National Academics, is at least 75 milligrams per day for adult women and 90 milligrams for adult men. However, Ferira says that “it’s a myth that you just need the baseline dietary intake levels and that you couldn’t leverage the power of more.”
The research actually shows that higher intakes of between 200 and 1,000 milligrams (or even more) might boost overall health outcomes, especially regarding immune function and response.
Plus, this large meta-analysis of nearly 30 randomized controlled trials revealed that high-potency daily vitamin C supplementation (which means 500 mg, 1,000 mg, and up) resulted in improved systolic and diastolic blood pressure—a key factor for placing cardiometabolic health. There was also a clinical trial that showed that 1,000 mg per day of a vitamin-C-lipid-citrus bioflavonoid complex led to notable reductions in inflammatory biomarker C-reactive protein, another metabolic health metric.
Myth 2: Vitamin C is only important for immunity
It is well known that vitamin C is fantastic for supporting the immune system—but it actually has way more benefits than that. “Pigeonholing it as a temporary need or just for immunity purposes is another myth,” Ferira explains.
Vitamin C plays an essential role in many health functions, like successful collagen synthesis. When it comes to having glowing, younger-looking skin, “everyone’s talking about collagen,” Ferira says. Well, it turns out collagen benefits “your gut, your eyes, your heart, your blood vessels… but for collagen to synthesize and cross-link currently and serve as this architectural scaffolding,” it requires enough vitamin C.
Myth 3: If you feel fine, you don’t need to take a supplement
Most people will only reach for their vitamin C supplement if they start feeling sniffly or suspect a cold coming on. However, almost half (42 percent) of the US adult population are vitamin C deficient and don’t get enough vitamin C from their daily food intake. Even 33 percent of adult Americans who take a supplement aren’t getting enough vitamin C.
Besides, taking a vitamin C supplement only when you start feeling under the weather won’t fortify your immune system the way you think it might. The most effective way of supporting your immune health so that it can tackle colds and other sicknesses is to make sure you are consistently getting enough vitamin C. “While this sounds like a super basic fact—that you need vitamin C every day—in practice, many people treat daily nutrient intake and nutritional sufficiency like something that just magically happens. In reality, it takes thought and effort,” Ferira concludes.