The best vitamin C supplement in 2021

Vitamins

Vitamin C was first identified in the 1920s by Albert von Szent Györgyi, who discovered that it could be used to cure scurvy.

Vitamin C supplements

Vitamin C is one of the most commonly taken supplements. While often reached for during cold and flu season, this essential nutrient can do so much more than simply help us get over the sniffles quicker. It also helps reduce the risk of eye and cardiovascular diseases, some cancers and dementia. Some studies even show it helps give the skin a more youthful appearance.

If you are considering buying a vitamin C supplement, you’ll want to read this guide first. We cover everything you could possibly want to know, and we’ll also recommend some of the best options. If you are the type of person that likes to cut right to the chase, though, you can check out the Garden of Life Raw Vitamin C, which is our top choice. In addition to vitamin C, it also contains a superfood blend to bolster your immune system.

Types of vitamin C

Ascorbic acid

Ascorbic acid is the type of vitamin C naturally found in foods and is the purest form. It has excellent bioavailability, which means the intestines easily absorb it. However, it is very acidic, so it may cause heartburn and stomach issues for some people.

Mineral ascorbates

Mineral ascorbates are a form of buffered vitamin C bound to minerals that help counteract some of its natural acidity, making it gentler on the stomach. Many minerals may be attached to vitamin C molecules, with sodium and calcium being the most common. In multivitamins, you may see manganese, chromium, magnesium, zinc and others. One thing to be aware of when taking mineral ascorbate types of vitamin C is how much of the other minerals you are ingesting with it. You want to ensure you aren’t exceeding your recommended daily dietary allowance.

Vitamin C supplement features

Supplement form

Vitamin C supplements come in pills, capsules, chewable tablets, effervescent tablets, powders and liquids. There is essentially no difference in how beneficial each of these types is for the body in broad terms. However, powders, chewables, liquids and effervescent tablets may be absorbed more quickly by the body. But for most people, the best thing is to choose the form you find the easiest and most convenient to take.

Additional ingredients

Most supplements will have additional ingredients along with vitamin C. Some, like superfood blends, probiotics, enzymes and bioflavonoids, are added to bolster the healthful properties of the supplement. Others, such as magnesium stearate and silica, are added as anti-caking agents. We recommend reading the label of any supplement you consider to ensure it doesn’t contain any ingredients you don’t want to be ingesting.

Dosage

The dosage of vitamin C supplements varies widely. Some may contain as little as 25 mg per serving, while others can contain 1,500 mg. These excessively high dosages are not beneficial for most people as the body can only absorb so much before it simply flushes out the rest through the kidneys. If you are trying to ensure your body gets the maximum amount it can, it is best to take small doses throughout the day or opt for a time-released formula.

Natural or synthetic

The majority of vitamins on the market are made artificially and contain synthetic sources of vitamins. While these synthetic vitamins are chemically identical to those found in foods, how the body processes them may be different. 

Some studies show no difference in the bioavailability of synthetic vitamin C versus natural forms in humans, but there is for animals. However, studies of vitamin E show that the natural form has twice the bioavailability of the synthetic forms for humans.

If you are concerned about this and prefer a natural form of vitamin C, the easiest way to tell is to look for whole foods on the ingredient list. If you see something like vitamin C from acerola cherry, rose hips, etc., then the supplement in question contains natural vitamin C. If you see vitamin C as ascorbic acid, calcium ascorbate, etc., then it is synthetic.

How much you can expect to spend on a vitamin C supplement

Vitamin C is often more affordable than many other supplements. Pills, capsules and tablets usually cost 5-15 cents per dose. Most powder supplements cost $10-$20 per pound, containing 300 or more servings. Liquid extracts may cost anywhere from $1-$20 per ounce. 

Vitamin C FAQs

Are there side effects from taking vitamin C supplements?

A. Vitamin C is considered safe for most individuals. However, those sensitive to it may experience stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, indigestion or headaches. The chances of experiencing any of these side effects increases if you surpass the 2,000 milligrams per day threshold.

How much vitamin C should I take per day?

A. For most adults, the recommended daily dietary allowance is 60-90 milligrams. For kids four 4-13 years old, the recommended allowance is 25-45 milligrams.

What is the best vitamin C supplement?

Top vitamin C supplement

Garden of Life Raw Vitamin C

Garden of Life Raw Vitamin C

What you need to know: Containing a superfood blend, probiotics and healthy enzymes, along with its 500 mg of vitamin C per dose, these capsules offer great immune system support. 

What you’ll love: You can take them with or without food, and the capsules can be opened and emptied into a beverage for people who don’t like swallowing pills.

What you should consider: It is not suitable for children.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Top vitamin C supplement for the money

Nature's Bounty Vitamin C 500 mg

Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C 500 mg

What you need to know: A good choice for those on a tight budget looking for their daily dose of vitamin C, Nature’s Bounty is just 3 cents per serving.

What you’ll love: It comes from a trusted brand and is both gluten and sugar-free.

What you should consider: Some may prefer a supplement without silica and magnesium stearate.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Worth checking out

American Health Ester-C

American Health Ester-C

What you need to know: An ideal option for those who have stomach issues from other supplements, Ester-C is a non-acidic formula.

What you’ll love: This option is free of most common allergens.

What you should consider: These large capsules can be difficult for some to swallow.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

 

Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.

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