The Nutrient Series – VITAMIN C

I hope you’ve all been enjoying the sunny weather recently! I’m sorry for the silence – I’ve been rushing to get coursework in and have now dived headfirst into revision period so I apologise if the posts are a bit few and far between.

This one’s a short post about vitamin C, sometimes called ascorbic acid.

We can’t make vitamin C in our bodies so it must come from our diet, making it an essential nutrient. It is well known as the vitamin lacking in sailors’ diets causing them to develop scurvy.


Why do we need vitamin C? (1)

Vitamin C is used by various enzymes in our bodies to help carry out day to day functions, such as the production of energy from fats and the synthesis of bone tissue.

It also helps with the absorption of iron from our food. This is why it is sometimes recommended to drink a glass of orange juice with your breakfast.

You may have also heard of vitamin C being referred to as an antioxidant, but there is currently not enough evidence done in humans to support this idea.


How much should we be consuming?

According to the UK Dietary Reference Values, adults should be consuming at least 40mg vitamin C per day (2).

To put this into context, one orange tends to contain about 50mg of vitamin C. If you are meeting the ‘5 fruit and veg a day’ target you will definitely be getting enough vitamin C.

Another tip for cooking vegetables – if you steam them instead of boiling them you lose less vitamins during the cooking process.



  1. Essentials of Human Nutrition, Jim Mann & A. Stewart Truswell, 2012.
  2. Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom, DoH, 1991



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