The Best Vitamin C Supplements of 2022, According to a Dietitian

Our top pick is MegaFood Complex C

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Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that is found primarily in fruits and vegetables. Among many other things, it "has antioxidant properties, which may play a role in preventing certain cancers and heart disease, as well as immunity and healthy aging,” says Beth Stark, RDN, LDN.

The best sources of vitamin C include fruits like oranges, strawberries, kiwi, and cantaloupe as well as vegetables such as bell peppers, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. Because these are very common foods, vitamin C deficiency is relatively rare in the United States. However, “individuals that don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, smoke, or have certain gastrointestinal issues may benefit from a supplement,” says Stark.

Supplements come in a variety of forms from capsules and gummies to powders and liquids, offer differing amounts of vitamin C, and contain different forms of the vitamin, so you’ll want to choose one that’s right for you. As with all supplements, we recommend choosing one that is third-party verified so you know that you’re getting what the label says—and nothing more.

Verywell Health Approved Vitamin C Supplements

  • Best Overall: Megafood Complex C is certified non-GMO, free from common allergens, and contains 250 milligrams of vitamin C and an organic fruit antioxidant blend.
  • Best Gummy: Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies are NSF Certified for Sport and contain 250 milligrams of vitamin C with no artificial colors or flavors.

Always speak with a healthcare professional before adding a supplement to your routine to ensure that the supplement is appropriate for your individual needs and which dosage to take.

Is a Vitamin C Supplement Beneficial?

Your body cannot make vitamin C, so it has to come from food or supplements. Supplements are effective at increasing blood levels of the vitamin in those that don’t consume enough through food. While consuming extra vitamin C is unlikely to offer benefits in healthy people, vitamin C supplements may help some people reach the recommended 75 milligrams (for women) to 90 milligrams (for men) per day for adults.

Some people take high doses of vitamin C in hopes of boosting their immune system, especially during cold and flu season. “Vitamin C is often thought of as a miracle immune-booster, but this isn’t the case,” says Stark. In fact, research suggests that vitamin C supplements don’t prevent colds unless you are exposed to extremely cold temperatures. regularly engage in extreme exercise, or have low vitamin C intake or absorption. They may slightly reduce a cold's duration or severity if taken regularly before the cold starts (but not after symptoms arise). Research has also shown that vitamin C supplements do not help prevent or treat COVID.

In general, the following populations may benefit from a vitamin C supplement:

Those that don’t eat a balanced diet. If you don’t eat many fruits and vegetables, a supplement may be helpful or even necessary.

Smokers. Smokers need an additional 35 mg of vitamin C per day, so if you don’t get that from food, a supplement may be helpful.

People with digestive or malabsorptive disease. Digestive diseases can reduce vitamin absorption as can some cancer treatments and dialysis for kidney disease. Vitamin C supplements can be helpful in increasing blood levels of the vitamin.

Endurance athletes. While vitamin C supplements have not been shown to prevent colds in the general healthy population, some research suggests benefits during periods of intense exercise among endurance athletes.

Research on vitamin C supplements in helping prevent or treat chronic diseases is inconclusive. Studies show a role of vitamin C in treating cancer, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes; however, there is not enough evidence to support taking high dose supplements or aiming to get more than the adequate amount. Research does support eating more fruits and vegetables to prevent and manage chronic disease, so reach for an extra serving of produce before you grab supplements.

Who May Not Benefit from Vitamin C Supplements

"When taken as recommended, vitamin C supplements are generally safe for most healthy people,” says Stark. However, that doesn’t mean that you need a supplement.

Those that eat a balanced diet. If you eat fruits and vegetables or drink orange or other fortified juices, it’s unlikely a supplement will offer much benefit. A half-cup of red peppers, six ounces of orange juice, or a large orange can provide all the vitamin C you need. Most fruits and vegetables offer some vitamin C, so if you don’t eat those foods but eat a variety of other produce, you’re likely getting enough from your diet.

In addition, supplements are not designed to replace a healthy diet. If you rely on supplements to get your vitamins, you may miss out on all of the benefits of eating nutrient-rich foods. Research suggests that the sum of all of the nutrients found in food is greater than the individual vitamins on their own as they are in supplements.

Those prone to kidney stones or taking certain medications. “Those that are prone to kidney stones or taking medications like statins, chemotherapy treatments, blood thinners, or estrogen should talk to their healthcare provider first to prevent possible interaction or negative side effects,” says Stark.

Those that take other supplements.  If you take a multivitamin or other supplement that contains vitamin C, taking additional vitamin C is unnecessary and may even lead to negative side effects like nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Best Overall: MegaFood Complex C

MegaFood Complex C

Walmart

Pros
  • Made from fruits and vegetables

  • certified B corporation

  • Non-GMO, vegan, & allergy-friendly

Cons
  • May be difficult to swallow

  • Contains rose hip, which may not be a good choice for some people

The Megafood Complex C supplement meets many of our standards for a high quality supplement. It provides a solid 250 milligram dose of vitamin C. Megafood vitamins are not third party verified, but they are certified Non-GMO and vegan and free of common allergens, making them suitable for most people. MegaFood is also a certified B corporation, meaning they prioritize social and environmental well-being in their business practices.

MegaFood's Complex C is made with vitamin C as ascorbic acid, along with organic ingredients—orange and orange peel, amla fruit, rosehips, green bell pepper, cranberry, and blueberry, which research shows are beneficial forms of the nutrient. Since this supplement includes a number of different ingredients, including rosehips, this may not be the best choice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Rosehips also may interact with antacids, estrogens, lithium, and medications that affect blood clotting. Although the amount of rose hip is very low, it is important to run this supplement by a healthcare provider before adding it to your regimen.

Because it’s a relatively large capsule, it may be difficult for some to swallow, so grab a big glass of water to help.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (from fruits and vegetables) | Form: Capsule | Dose: 1 tablet | Amount of Vitamin C: 250mg | Gluten-Free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: Some ingredients | Added Sugar: None

Best Budget: Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg

Nature Made Vitamin C 500 mg

Nature Made

Pros
  • USP verified

  • No artificial flavors or colors

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • High dose

Nature Made is one of our favorite companies for quality supplements at affordable prices. Most of their supplements—including vitamin C—are USP verified, meaning they contain what the label says, don’t contain harmful levels of contaminants, can be used by the body as indicated, and are produced using good manufacturers practices.

Please note that this supplement does contain 500 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than 5 times the RDA. While this is well below the UL (or max recommended dose), if you’re taking any other supplements and eating food that contains vitamin C, make sure that you are not exceeding 2,000 milligrams. Some people may experience side effects at doses lower than 2,000 milligrams, so this is really only a good fit if you are in need of a high dose supplement.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) | Form: Capsule | Dose: 1 caplet | Amount of Vitamin C: 500mg | Gluten-Free: Yes | Non-GMO: No | Organic: No | Added Sugar: None

Best Spray: Garden of Life mykind Organics Vitamin C Organic Spray

Garden of Life Vitamin C with Amla

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Approved by ConsumerLab

  • No added sugar

  • Organic & vegan

Cons
  • Requires refrigeration

For those that have trouble swallowing a capsule, a spray like the Garden of Life MyKind Organics Tangerine Spray may be a good choice. It’s easy to consume, doesn’t contain any added sugars or other sweeteners, and is free from major allergens and gluten. 

MyKind Organics makes supplements from a blend of organic foods rather than from synthetic forms of nutrients. Made from a blend of over 20 organic fruits and vegetables, their vitamin C blend is no exception. Be sure to read through the ingredients if you have any allergies or intolerances to any fruits and vegetables before taking this supplement.

Five sprays are required for the 60-milligram dose, which provides about two-thirds of the RDA for men (slightly more for women). The lower dose and ability to adjust serving size to your needs make it a good option if you don’t want or need the mega doses found in other supplements. However, if you’re relying solely on your supplement for all of your vitamin C needs, this may not be the best choice for you. 

Of note, this supplement does require refrigeration after opening.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (from organic food blend) | Form: Spray | Dose: 5 sprays | Amount of Vitamin C: 60mg | Gluten-Free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: Yes | Added Sugar: None

Best Powder: Swanson Vitamin C Powder

Swanson Vitamin C Powder

Walmart

Pros
  • Adjustable dose

  • No added sugar

  • Easy to swallow

Cons
  • May not be palatable for some

  • Full serving is a high dose

Another option for those who struggle with capsules is the Swanson Vitamin C Powder. With no added sugars or alternative sweeteners, it’s a good alternative to some gummies and chewables that contain a lot of sugar. It can be blended into a smoothie or mixed with any liquid of choice. This supplement is not certified by NSF, USP, or ConsumerLab, but Swanson assures that their supplements go through third party testing by other labs.

The powder form also allows some flexibility in adjusting your dose to your needs. It’s important to note that one scoop of this powder provides 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C—a dose that has been shown to cause negative side effects in some people (although it’s well below the UL). Therefore, you may want to start with a quarter or half scoop, which may be enough for you.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) | Form: Powder | Dose: 1 scoop | Amount of Vitamin C: 1,000mg | Gluten-Free: No | Non-GMO: No | Organic: No | Added Sugar: None

Best Liquid: Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C

Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C

Pure Encapsulations

Pros
  • Potentially more easily absorbed form of Vitamin C

  • Easy to swallow

  • Non-GMO & vegan

Cons
  • Requires refrigeration

  • High dose

If you prefer liquid supplements, Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C is another easy-to-consume option. Some emerging research suggests that liposomal vitamin C may be better absorbed by the body than other forms, though that’s still up for debate.

This supplement is a high-dose (1,000 milligrams) of vitamin C, which may not be appropriate for everyone. However, since it is a liquid, you can take a lower dose by taking 1/2 or 1/4 teaspoon instead of the full 1 teaspoon serving. It also contains 125mg of sodium per full serving, so if you’re watching your sodium intake, be mindful about what comes from this supplement.

Pure Encapsulations is known for making high quality supplements and uses third party labs for ingredient testing. It is also soy-free, vegan, and non-GMO.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate) | Form: Liquid | Dose: 1 teaspoon | Amount of Vitamin C: 1,000mg | Gluten-Free: No | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No | Added Sugar: None

Best Gummy: Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies

Nordic Naturals Vitamin C Gummies

iHerb

Pros
  • NSF Certified for Sport

  • Vegan

  • No artificial colors or flavors

Cons
  • Contains added sugar


We value Nordic Naturals for their high quality, third-party-tested supplements. Their vitamin C Gummies Sport go above and beyond baseline NSF standards with an NSF for Sport certification, which ensures they are free from any ingredients banned for athletes. Nordic Naturals is a great choice if you're an endurance athlete training in extreme conditions and decide to take a vitamin C supplement to prevent colds. They’re also vegan and don’t contain any artificial flavors or colors.

Two gummies provide 250 milligrams—a reasonable dose—of vitamin C in an easy-to-consume form. They do contain four grams of added sugar, so be mindful about how that contributes to your total daily sugar intake.

Key Nutrients: Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) | Form: Gummy | Dose: 2 gummies | Amount of Vitamin C: 250mg | Gluten-Free: Yes, but not certified | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No | Added Sugar: 4g

Final Verdict

For a quality vitamin C supplement that provides a reasonable dose, reach for the Megafood Complex Vitamin C (view at Amazon).

How We Select Supplements

Our team works hard to be transparent about why we recommend certain supplements; you can read more about our dietary supplement methodology here

We support supplements that are evidence-based and rooted in science. We value certain product attributes that we find to be associated with the highest quality products. We prioritize products that are third-party tested and certified by one of three independent, third party certifiers: USP, NSF, or ConsumerLab. 

It's important to note that the FDA does not review dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they go to market. Our team of experts has created a detailed, science-backed methodology to choose the supplements we recommend.

What to Look For

Third-Party Testing

Supplements that are third-party tested are sent to a lab where they are tested to ensure they contain what they say they contain and are not contaminated with specific high-risk, common contaminants. However, it’s important to note:

  1. Third party testing does not test to see if a product is effective or safe for everyone, and it does not ensure the supplement will not interact with other supplements or medications.
  2. Not all third-party testing is created equal. It is not uncommon for supplement companies to pay labs for certificates after conducting minimal to no testing. 
  3. The third party certifications we can trust are: ConsumerLab, NSF, and USP. However, these certifications are difficult to obtain and/or expensive for manufacturers, so many companies choose not to get their products tested by one of these three organizations. 
  4. Sometimes products tested by these three companies are more expensive to try to offset the cost they pay for certification.
  5. Just because a supplement is not tested by one of these three companies, it does not mean it’s a bad product. We recommend doing some research on the reputability of the manufacturer, and calling up the manufacturer and their testing lab to determine their protocols and decide if you feel comfortable consuming the supplement.

Form

Vitamin C supplements are available in capsule, gummy, chewable, powder, and liquid form. Gummy, chewable, powder, and liquid versions sometimes contain added sugar, so check ingredients if you’re watching your sugar or carbohydrate intake.

The most common form of vitamin C in supplements is called ascorbic acid. However, it also comes in other forms including sodium ascorbate, Ester-C®, food-based forms, and rose hips. In general, there is no significant difference in these forms as far as how the body is able to use the vitamin C.

Some brands offer something called liposomal encapsulated vitamin C, which small studies have shown may increase the amount that the body is able to use. But it may not be worth the additional cost since doses in supplements are typically significantly higher than the amount your body needs, so your body can likely get enough from other supplement forms.

Ingredients & Potential Interactions

It is essential to carefully read the ingredient list and nutrition facts panel of a supplement to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included, relative to the recommended daily value of that ingredient. Please bring the supplement label to a healthcare provider to review the different ingredients contained in the supplement and any potential interactions between these ingredients and other supplements and medications you are taking.

Vitamin C supplements may interact with statins and chemotherapy drugs, potentially reducing their effectiveness. If you are undergoing cancer treatment or take any cholesterol-lowering medications, talk to your healthcare provider before starting a supplement.

Vitamin C is sometimes combined with zinc and marketed for immune health, but research doesn’t actually support these claims. Too much zinc (more than 40 milligrams for adults) can also lead to nausea, vomiting, and other negative health effects, so be mindful about amounts found in supplements.

Some vitamin C supplements contain digestive enzymes, probiotics, and adaptogenic herbs, all of which may come with different risks and side effects, so be sure to check with a healthcare provider before starting a supplement with any of these ingredients.

Vitamin C Dosage

The amount you need will vary depending on age, gender, lifestyle choices like smoking, and other health conditions. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men over the age of 18. Pregnant women need 85 milligrams and breastfeeding women need 115 milligrams.

Many manufacturers include more than the RDA since the amount your body absorbs may be less than what is provided in the supplement. However, be sure that the amount included does not exceed the tolerable upper limit (2,000 mg per day for those 19 and older).  

How Much is Too Much?

Although vitamin C is water soluble and your body will get rid of any extra that you consume from food, too much vitamin C in the form of supplements can cause problems. For those who are 19 or older, the National Institute of Health notes a tolerable upper limit (UL) — or the amount you shouldn’t exceed —as 2,000mg per day.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What does vitamin C do for your skin?

    Vitamin C plays a role in collagen production, which provides structure for your skin. Through its role in building collagen, it may even have anti-aging effects by helping to maintain the elasticity of your skin. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that can provide protection against sun damage. That said, think twice before you reach for expensive skin products that market vitamin C as a way to improve your skin—research on the benefits of topical vitamin C (applied directly to your skin) is limited. Instead, focus on eating more vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables since you’ll likely get other benefits from those, too.

  • Is vitamin C calcium?

    No, vitamin C is a different nutrient than calcium. Calcium is a mineral that is also essential, meaning you need to consume it through food or supplements. It’s primarily found in dairy foods, some vegetables and beans, and in fortified soy products.

  • Does vitamin C help acne?

    Vitamin C may provide some anti-inflammatory benefits and is important for wound healing. Therefore, there is some thought that it could help with acne, but there isn’t much evidence to support this.

  • Does vitamin C help with colds?

    “While vitamin C has been studied for years as a possible remedy for colds or a way to prevent them, findings have been inconsistent,” says Stark. Vitamin C does play a role in the immune system and consuming enough vitamin C may lessen your chance of getting a cold or shorten the amount of time you are sick. However, taking extra vitamin C doesn’t seem to reduce most people’s chances of getting a cold.

    According to Stark, "What you can do to support your immune system is eat a variety of nutrient-dense foods, get enough sleep, exercise regularly, be mindful about alcohol intake and avoid smoking."

  • Can you take vitamin C while pregnant?

    Yes, vitamin C supplements are generally safe for pregnant women, and vitamin C needs are higher in pregnancy. Most prenatal vitamins include vitamin C, so it’s not likely that you will need or benefit from a separate vitamin C supplement if you’re taking a prenatal vitamin. It’s also important that you don’t exceed the UL of 2,000 milligrams per day.

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