The truth about vitamin C

Can taking vitamin C supplements help you get through the winter months? Here's everything you need to know about vitamin C, and a few myth busting facts.

What is vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water soluble compound found in certain foods. Unlike most animals, humans don’t make vitamin C and it can't be stored in your body, so it’s essential to include it in your diet. A healthy adult should get 40mg of vitamin C everyday. 

Why do you need it?

  • Vitamin C is an essential ingredient in collagen, the substance that holds your whole body together 
  • It helps your body absorb iron 
  • Boosts your immune system 
  • Helps with wound healing  
  • Protects cells and helps to keep them healthy 

Vitamin C deficiency is known as Scurvy, and famously affected sailors who were away from dry land for months at a time. Symptoms include tiredness and depression, rashes, internal bleeding, and slower healing of wounds. Scurvy is most famous for causing receding gums and tooth loss.

Top foods for vitamin C:

The best way to get the vitamin C you need is to eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. Fruit and vegetables high in vitamin C include:

  • Chili peppers
  • Red bell pepper
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussels Sprouts


  • Papaya
  • Orange
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Kiwi
  • Mango

Vitamin C research and the common cold:

Scientific studies have concentrated on whether taking 200mg of vitamin C per day would reduce how often you might get a cold, how long the cold would last, and how bad it would be. 60 years of clinical research shows that when taken after a cold starts, vitamin C supplements do not help in any way. When taken daily, vitamin C very slightly reduced the length of the cold by 8% in adults and 14% in children.
In practice this means that the 12 days a year the average adult suffers from a cold would be reduced to 11 days if you take vitamin C every day during that year. The average child suffers about 28 days of cold every year, and with daily vitamin C intake they would still suffer for 24 days.

Our Medical Director, Dr. Mob, says:

"Five servings of fruit and vegetables daily will ensure you get plenty of vitamins and minerals. You can start the day with a bowl of cereal, as most of these are fortified with vitamins and minerals. Try not to drink a lot of tea, coffee, or cola-based drinks as caffeine can prevent your body absorbing vitamins and minerals such as iron."

Vitamin C fact:

Narwhal skin is rich in vitamin C and is the primary source of vitamins for the Inuit people of the Arctic. As there are no other naturally occurring sources of vitamin C in that part of the world it is highly unlikely that humans would have survived in the Arctic at all if it were not for the Narwhal.