Nutrition Library

Vitamin C

General Information
  • Vitamin C is water-soluble and cannot be produced by the body (making it an essential vitamin). It is not stored in the body and must therefore be consumed in sufficient amounts every day.
  • Intake levels are generally adequate in Central Europe and the United States.
  • Certain groups, however, have higher intake requirements and should therefore pay particular attention to their intake of vitamin C (e.g., smokers, those with excessive alcohol consumption).
Why Do We Need Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a bit of an all-rounder and is involved in countless bodily processes. Some of these include:

  • Antioxidation: protects fats, proteins, nucleic acids, and the cell membrane from oxidative damage
  • Key role in collagen synthesis: important for the structure and maintenance of skin, connective tissue, bones, and teeth; also important for wound healing
  • Important for the immune system
  • Improves iron absorption in the intestine and thus indirectly promotes blood formation
    • Important for activating folic acid and vitamin D
    • Anti-allergic effect, acts as an antihistamine (supports histamine breakdown, stabilizes mast cells)
    • Plays a role in detoxification (functionalization of harmful substances)
    • Plays a role in the formation of neurotransmitters (serotonin, noradrenaline)
    • Plays a role in the synthesis of glucocorticoids in the adrenal gland (stress response


    Possible Causes of Deficiency

    Inadequate intake:

    • Daily diet contains too few foods containing vitamin C (see below)
    • Incorrect storage and preparation of food

    Increased requirements:

    • Pregnancy, lactation
    • Growth
    • Infections
    • Injuries
    • Hemodialysis
    • Smoking, high alcohol consumption
    • Competitive sports, stress

      Reduced absorption:

      • Gastrointestinal disorders, e.g., gastritis, ulcers, Crohn’s disease
      • Interaction with medications (impairs absorption/utilization): e.g., antacids, antibiotics, ASA, glucocorticoids, diuretics, contraceptives, NSAID, PPI, tetracyclines
      Symptoms of Deficiency
      • General: listlessness, aching limbs, joints, performance pain, fatigue
      • Blood: anemia (often iron-refractory)
      • Immune system: susceptibility to infections, immune depression, increased histamine sensitivity
      • Skeletal muscles: muscle weakness, muscle pain (lack of carnitine)
      • Psyche: moodiness, depression
      • Wounds: Wound healing disorder
      • Teeth: bleeding gums, inflammation of the gums, periodontitis, tooth decay, loss of teeth
      Recommended Intakes

      Recommended intake for adults:

      According to D-A-CH:

      • Women 95 mg/day, men 110 mg/day, smokers 135 mg/day (women) or 155 mg/day (men)

      USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB):

      • Women 75 mg/day, men 90 mg/day; smokers add + 35 mg/day

      Pregnant women (> 19 years):

      • According to D-A-CH: 105 mg/day
      • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 85 mg/day

      Breastfeeding women:

      • According to D-A-CH: 125 mg/day
      • USA Food and Nutrition Board (FNB): 120 mg/day

      Adolescents and children depending on age, see

      The Best Plant Sources (per 100 g)

      Since vitamin C is very reactive, the vitamin C content of foods can vary significantly depending on the duration and location of food storage, and on the food’s processing and preparation. Vitamin loss after 2 days of storage (for example): refrigerator 30%, cellar 40%, pantry 50%.

      This list therefore only provides some guidance about which types of food are good sources.

      • Acerola, raw – 1500 mg
      • Raw rosehip – 1250 mg
      • Sea buckthorn juice – 266 mg
      • Currants, black – 189 mg
      • Red pepper – 140 mg
      • Green peppers – 115 mg
      • Kale – 105 mg
      • Broccoli, raw – 110 mg
      • Brussels sprouts, cooked – 87 mg
      • Kohlrabi – 63 mg
      • Strawberry – 57 mg
      • Lemon – 51 mg
      • Spinach – 51 mg
      • Arugula – 47 mg
      • Cauliflower, cooked – 45 mg
      • Orange – 45 mg
      • Corn salad – 35 mg
      • Tangerine – 30 mg
      • Blueberry – 22mg
      • Tomato – 19 mg
      • Parsley (10g) – 16 mg
      • Potato, cooked – 14 mg
      • Apple – 12 mg
      • Gröber, U. (2011): Mikronährstoffe. Metabolic Tuning – Prävention – Therapie (3. Auflage). Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH Stuttgart

      • Biesalski, H.K., Bischoff, S.C., Pirlich, M., Weidmann, A., (2018). Ernährungsmedizin – Nach dem Curriculum Ernährungsmedizin der Bundesärztekammer (5.Auflage). Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag

      • Schmiedel, V. (2019): Nährstofftherapie – Orthomolekulare Medizin in Prävention, Diagnostik und Therapie (3.Auflage). Stuttgart: Georg Thieme Verlag