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How to get the most from vitamin C

Sam Goodman, Holland & Barrett Store Manager at Market Street in Manchester, on the energy-boosting properties of vitamin C

Because it’s not just for colds…

You’d have to have been living under a rock to not know that vit C is great for helping keep the dreaded winter sniffles at bay – but it’s so much more than just that – it’s used by the body for the production of antibodies.

It’s also thought to be great for skin, boosting collagen, helping skin look plumper and more luminous, and fighting free radical damage caused by pollution. On top of all that, it helps stabilise energy levels, the nervous system and protects against tiredness and fatigue, making Vitamin C an everyday essential. You get the picture – this is one of the good guys!

Are you getting enough?

Unlike most animals, the human body does not make or store vitamin C, so you need to get it from your diet or through supplements.


Adult women need at least 75mg of vitamin C a day, while adult men need a minimum of 90mg. Food is a great source of vitamin C – broccoli and strawberries have roughly 85mg of vitamin C per cup, while a small orange provides around 50mg. You can also boost your intake with citrus fruits, kale, bell peppers, kiwi, papaya and blackcurrants.

Signs you’re not getting enough?

Bleeding gums, bruising easily, not healing quickly, dry and splitting hair, fatigue and depression are all signs you need to boost your intake of vitamin C.

What to look for in a supplement?


You’ll find vitamin C in many supplements, but it may be listed as ascorbic acid on the label as this is the chemical form.

It’s also common to find that vitamin C is combined with other minerals to help it be absorbed.  The two main types are sodium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate.  Vitamin C needs sodium-dependent transporters for the body to be able to use it, so the idea is adding sodium will help boost this.

Calcium ascorbate, also called ester-C is a type of vitamin C combined with calcium. The calcium is thought to make absorption gentler on the stomach – important if your gut bacteria is out of whack.

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