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Daily Vitamin C Requirement

Daily Vitamin C Requirement

Vitamin C cannot be produced by the human body itself. Therefore, this important antioxidant must be consumed daily through diet. Plant-based foods contain a high amount of vitamin C, making it easy to meet the daily requirement if enough fruits and vegetables are included in the diet. To access the table of foods rich in vitamin C, click here.

Daily Vitamin C Requirement for the United States

For the United States, the following values have been recommended as daily vitamin C intake 1.

Gender and Age GroupAmount in mg
≥ 19 years 90
≥ 19 years 75
Pregnant ≥ 19 years 85
Breastfeeding ≥ 19 years 120
Children / Adolescents
0 to 6 months 40*
7 to 12 months 50*
1 to 3 years 15
4 to 8 years 25
9 to 13 years 45
Boys 14 to 18 years 75
Girls 14 to 18 years 65
Pregnant, 14 to 18 years 80
Breastfeeding, 14 to 18 years 115

* Adequate Intake (AI)

The values for the daily vitamin C requirement may be set too low. Based on biological plausibility, the body's mechanisms related to the prevention of coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer, as well as studies, some scientists conclude that 200 mg per day is the optimal intake of vitamin C for the majority of adults to maximize health benefits and minimize the risk of deficiency or other harmful effects (e.g., from excessive vitamin C) 2.

Smokers should consume more vitamin C (women +40 mg; men +45 mg per day) than non-smokers, as they are exposed to increased oxidative stress from toxins in cigarette smoke 3. Additionally, smokers generally have lower vitamin C blood levels.

In addition, stress, alcohol consumption, fever, and viral infections also contribute to a rapid decrease in blood levels of ascorbic acid 4. An increased requirement cannot be ruled out in these cases.

Do Athletes have a Higher Vitamin C Requirement?

Scientific studies suggest that regular exercise does not increase the need for vitamin C 5. Therefore, a dosage of ~200 mg of vitamin C per day through five or more servings of fruits (table of vitamin C fruits) and vegetables (table of vitamin C vegetables) could be sufficient to reduce oxidative stress during exercise and provide additional health benefits 6.

Many athletes use antioxidant supplements like Vitamin C to enhance their performance. However, there is no consistent evidence that supplementation reduces oxidative stress and leads to better performance 7. Studies have shown that vitamin C supplementation has no impact on athletes' performance and is not explicitly recommended in that regard 8 9.