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Can You Actually Get Enough Vitamin C From An Orange To Reap The Benefits?

Like many vitamins and nutrients, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies based on your age, gender, and what’s happening in your life.

Adult men aged 19 and up should strive for a baseline intake of 90 milligrams of vitamin C daily, according to the National Academies, while adult women should consume at least 75 milligrams. That goes up slightly when you’re pregnant (85 milligrams) and breastfeeding (120 milligrams).

“These are just general recommendations,” says health coach, registered dietitian, and mbg Collective member Jessica Cording, R.D., CDN. “In terms of what’s considered the optimal amount for you, it can vary. You may have higher needs during different times in your life.” But she notes that at a minimum, you should aim for the RDA.

It’s also worth noting, 42% of U.S. adults are insufficient in vitamin C (per blood test results), while 118 million American adults are failing to consume adequate amounts of vitamin C daily from their diets. (More on that here.)

In general, if you take in more vitamin C than you need at that moment, you’ll just pee out the excess, says Zhaoping Li, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Center for Human Nutrition and chief of the Division of Clinical Nutrition at David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “If you have more than you need, your body will get rid of it.”

Li adds, if you have a “mega-dose,” you may run the risk of experiencing unwanted side effects. The National Academies defines the tolerable upper intake level (UL) as 2,000 milligrams per day. To clarify, the UL is defined as “the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population.” (More on those potential health considerations here.)

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