Nutrition

You Probably Don't Need Vitamin C in Your Multivitamin

2 min read

Learn about vitamin C and why you probably get plenty through your diet.
Learn about vitamin C and why you probably get plenty through your diet.

Essential Takeaways

  • While vitamin C is really important building block for health, most women consume enough through diet alone—so it probably doesn't belong in your multivitamin.
  • Overdoing it on vitamin C can mess with the absorption of other nutrients, so it's best to stick with a food-first approach.

Let's be clear about one thing: Vitamin C is definitely a rockstar where your health is concerned. It helps our bodies build collagen, muscle tissue, and blood vessels, and it’s also a powerful antioxidant, which means that it helps protect against cell damage in the body and support immunity. All this, and research shows that vitamin C can help out with iron absorption, too.*

While this all might seem like a good case for adding this nutrient into your vitamin rotation, the truth is you probably don't have to. Most of us consume plenty of vitamin C in an ideal way already: via the food we eat. That's why adding it to a multivitamin might be unnecessary—and in some cases, downright unhelpful.

But before we dive into all that, let's take a 15-second crash course on how vitamin C moves through the body.

Fun fact: Our bodies don’t produce or store vitamin C.

That’s because it’s water-soluble. For contrast, fat-soluble nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin K are absorbed in our fatty tissue, where they tend to stick around for awhile. But water-soluble vitamins like B and C are more “one and done:” We consume them, absorb what we need in the moment, and pee the rest out.

This means that we need to look outward for our vitamin C needs. But the good news is that most of us can meet those needs through diet alone.

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You can find your daily dose of vitamin C in a single orange.

As long as you’re eating a fair amount of fresh fruits and veggies, chances are you’re getting your fill of vitamin C—and then some. The National Institute of Health recommends that adults aim for 75 mg a day. For reference, the food equivalent of 75 mg is one medium orange. In fact, if you ate any of the following, you’d be meeting your recommended intake of vitamin C for the day:

  • 1 cup of raw broccoli (78 mg)
  • ½ cup of raw bell pepper (95 mg)
  • 1 grapefruit (78 mg)
  • 1 8-oz glass of freshly squeezed orange juice (84 mg)

But supplementing can’t hurt, right?

While it’s pretty hard to overdo it on vitamin C through diet alone (FWIW, experts recommend keeping your daily limit under 2000 mg), the truth is that you often just don’t get the same benefits if you’re taking it as a supplement. Vitamin C works best when it’s paired with polyphenols, naturally-occurring phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. But many vitamin C supplements (which might also mention the nutrient’s other name, ascorbic acid) are missing this crucial element—and that’s not to mention that in larger amounts, vitamin C can mess with the absorption of other nutrients like B12. Instead, we recommend taking that food-first approach so you can get vitamin C along with its vitamin helpers, and using a quality multivitamin to help fill some of the trickier nutrition gaps.*

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