Here's What Vitamin C Can And Can't Do For You

As the holy grail of the supplement aisle, vitamin C has its place in any well-stocked household. Known alternatively as "ascorbic acid," the nutrient is an essential vitamin, which means that our body can't produce it on its own (via Healthline). However, it is important to support many vital functions in the body; the daily recommended intake is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men.

You can get your fix of the vitamin from a quick trip to the grocery store: fruits like oranges, strawberries, and kiwis, as well as vegetables like broccoli, kale, and bell peppers are known to be especially potent (via Healthline). But if you're someone who's continued the war on veggies into adulthood, there are vitamin C supplements that come in the form of capsules, chewables, and powders that you can take (also via Healthline).

Either way, it's important to incorporate it into your diet, as the antioxidant may reduce your risk for chronic disease, manage high blood pressure, stave of heart disease, and boost your immunity, per Healthline. The antioxidant also helps with losing weight and has been linked with lower body fat percentages and waist circumferences, per Health. However, the benefits of vitamin C have wildly been exaggerated over time. Read on to know how vitamin C can and can't help you.

Vitamin C can't cure the common cold

The sales for vitamin C supplements rose to about $209 million during the first half of 2020, which was up by 76% from the previous year (via USA Today). The driving force behind the sales was the pandemic and faith in the nutrient's ability to boost the immune system's fight against the coronavirus. "I am aware of no other nutrient that causes such emotion," Dr. Daniel Monti from Thomas Jefferson University told USA Today.

However, there is no truth to that claim. In April 2020, NYU Langone Medical Center's Dr. Mark J. Mulligan told The New York Times that there is no evidence that supplements like vitamin C can combat COVID-19, and that excessive intake can be damaging to your kidneys and stomach. The same is true for another popular claim: Vitamin C does not reduce your risk for the common cold, but it could possibly shorten the length of your symptoms (via Health).

Nevertheless, the antioxidant can help with boosting immunity overall and can also be beneficial to your skin, if applied topically. Fortunately, vitamin C deficiencies are rare, and hitting the recommended daily target shouldn't be too difficult (via Health).