How Long Does Vitamin C Stay in Your System?

Jan 02, 2024 Vitamin C 4 MIN

How Long Does Vitamin C Stay in Your System?

Vitamin C. We see it everywhere: citrus fruits, orange juice, certain vegetables, and dietary supplements. But what actually is it? What does it do in your body? And how long does it stick around? Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an immune support nutrient. It functions as an antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals in the body. What is a free radical, you might ask? A free radical is a compound that can be formed during the body's natural process of converting food into energy, but they can also form due to smoke exposure, exercise, pollution, or even stress! These free radicals can cause oxidative damage to cells in our body. That's why providing yourself with "anti"-oxidants is essential! But Vitamin C does more than support your immune system; it also increases iron absorption from certain foods, and it's needed for collagen synthesis to support overall skin health!†

How the body absorbs and stores a vitamin depends on whether it is fat-soluble or water-soluble: whether it dissolves in fat or water. Because they dissolve in fat, the body can store fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K in fatty tissue. The ability to store these vitamins in fatty tissue allows the body to keep them around if they're not immediately needed. Vitamin C, however, is a water-soluble vitamin, along with B-Vitamins. Because water-soluble vitamins can't be stored in fatty tissue, they function a bit differently and stay in your system for a shorter time.

How Long Does Vitamin C Stay in Your System?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body can't store excess Vitamin C in fatty tissue. The body's processes take the Vitamin C they need, but everything left over gets flushed out through urine. This means that your body can't build up an excess store of Vitamin C; any amount beyond what's necessary gets flushed out either way.[1]

Some studies have shown that once Vitamin C has entered the bloodstream, it has a half-life of roughly two hours.[2] This means that the amount of Vitamin C present in the body is reduced by half every two hours. So, the answer to the question of how long Vitamin C stays in your system is two-fold. Excess Vitamin C is quickly flushed from the body through urine, and the Vitamin C that is absorbed by the body is reduced by half every two hours.

The Vitamin C absorbed by the body is then used for several functions. Vitamin C is necessary for the body to produce collagen, which helps support healthy skin. It also aids in Iron absorption. How can Vitamin C help your body absorb Iron? Ascorbic acid in the stomach bonds with the type of Iron most commonly found in food, "non-heme" Iron, and creates a compound that can be more easily dissolved at the stomach's level of acidity, allowing that Iron to be more easily absorbed into the body.[3]†

Tips to Taking Vitamin C

So now that you know what Vitamin C does and how it's stored in the body, what's the best way to take it? Vitamin C can be found in a number of food sources, like citrus fruits, broccoli and red pepper, so you might be getting all the Vitamin C you need just from the food you eat! However, it's important to know that Vitamin C is a common shortfall nutrient; almost 50% of US adults don't receive enough Vitamin C from their diet alone![4]

The Recommended Daily Amount of Vitamin C for adults is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.[5] If your diet is low in fruits and vegetables, consider Vitamin C supplementation to help bridge possible nutrient shortfalls.†

Taking a Vitamin C supplement with a meal rich in non-heme Iron, common in vegetables, grain products, and beans, can help increase the bioavailability and absorption of non-heme Iron.[3]†

What to Look For in a Vitamin C Supplement

Knowing your options is important when picking a Vitamin C supplement. Nature Made® Vitamin C comes in a variety of forms to suit your preference, with tablets, softgels, and caplets. And if you're looking for something a little more tasty, Nature Made® also offers Vitamin C Gummies with delicious tangerine flavor. For general immune support, Nature Made® Wellblends™ ImmuneMAX® Gummies include Vitamin C in a 3-in-1 blend along with immune support nutrients Vitamin D3 and Zinc. And if you're looking for a tasty way to provide your kids with a good source of Vitamin C, Kids First® Vitamin C Gummies provide 125 mg of Vitamin C in each great-tasting serving!†


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

 

References

  1. Lykstad J, Sharma S. Biochemistry, Water Soluble Vitamins. [Updated 2023 Mar 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538510/
  2. Lykkesfeldt J, Tveden-Nyborg P. The Pharmacokinetics of Vitamin C. Nutrients. 2019;11(10):2412. Published 2019 Oct 9. doi:10.3390/nu11102412
  3. Piskin E, Cianciosi D, Gulec S, Tomas M, Capanoglu E. Iron Absorption: Factors, Limitations, and Improvement Methods. ACS Omega. 2022;7(24):20441-20456. Published 2022 Jun 10. doi:10.1021/acsomega.2c01833
  4. Reider CA, Chung RY, Devarshi PP, Grant RW, Hazels Mitmesser S. Inadequacy of Immune Health Nutrients: Intakes in US Adults, the 2005-2016 NHANES. Nutrients. 2020;12(6):1735. Published 2020 Jun 10. doi:10.3390/nu12061735
  5. Office of dietary supplements – Vitamin C. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. Mar 26, 2021. Accessed Oct 27, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/

Authors

Graham Morris

NatureMade Copywriter

Graham has a degree in film with a focus on screenwriting from the University of California, Santa Cruz. He enjoys learning new things and finding the best, most engaging way to communicate them to a wide audience. Graham appreciates simplicity in life and nutrition, and wants to find the easiest, no-stress ways to stay healthy.

Read More

Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

Science and Health Educator

Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Read More