Our editors have independently chosen the products listed on this page. If you purchase something mentioned in this article, we may earn a small commission.
February 18, 2022 — 10:28 AM
Thanks to its critical role in immunity, vitamin C has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years.* However, many don’t realize that vitamin C is a potent antioxidant involved in a myriad of physiological functions that help your body run properly every single day–not just when you’re feeling under the weather.*
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, which means the human body can’t make it on its own (and thus, must consume it). Additionally, it’s a water-soluble vitamin, which means any C your body doesn’t absorb each day will be excreted through your urine.
For these reasons, it’s so important to make sure we’re consuming enough vitamin C daily from our diet and supplements to support our skin, joint, heart, brain, and cellular health.* (Sadly, approximately half of U.S. adults are failing to do just that.)
In addition to eating enough vitamin-C-rich foods, high-quality supplementation is a fantastic way to ensure we’re getting an effective dose of C to support its array of benefits and whole-body health.* Trying to find the best vitamin C supplement can be overwhelming, though. (That’s where we come in.)
If you’re on a mission to up your vitamin C intake, this comprehensive guide will help you find the best vitamin C supplement for you and your health needs.
Best liposomal vitamin C: Liposomal Vitamin C liquid, Pure Encapsulations
Best timed-release vitamin C: Timed Release Super Bio Vitamin C, Solaray
Best Ester-C: Ester-C Plus 500 mg Vitamin C Vegetable Capsules, Solgar
Best immune complex with vitamin C: immune support+, mindbodygreen
Best organic vitamin C: Pure Radiance C, Pure Synergy
Best vitamin C fruit blend: Living Vitamin C Antioxidant Blend, Garden of Life
Best vitamin C with food + herb blend: Ultra C-400 mg, MegaFood
Best multivitamin with C: ultimate multivitamin+, mindbodygreen
Best chewable vitamin C: Chewable Vitamin C 1000 mg, Emergen-C
What to look for in a quality vitamin C supplement.
We scoured the market for the best vitamin C supplements available and, using a few key criteria–including form, source, dose, and quality–narrowed it down to the carefully curated list of supplements you see today.
From vitamin C-lipid-citrus bioflavonoid trios and chewable tablets to gummies and liposomal powders and liquids–vitamin C supplements can take many different forms. The good news is that the delivery format doesn’t matter too much (although, we recommend you reserve gummies for kids or adults that don’t care to swallow other forms of vitamin C). Rather, it’s what’s inside the vitamin C supplement that really counts.
Whether you’re trying to understand our selections better or doing research to find a vitamin C supplement on your own, here are the most important factors to evaluate, as determined and vetted by our vice president of scientific affairs, Ashley Jordan Ferira, Ph.D., RDN:
Form and source of vitamin C
When selecting a high-quality vitamin C supplement, one of the most important factors is the form of vitamin C and how well it absorbs. Here are a few common forms and sources of vitamin C you will see in our list of selections and on other ingredient labels:
Ascorbic acid. This is a widely used and robust option for vitamin C, as it’s well absorbed at lower doses and your body will excrete what it can’t use via urine.
Liposomal vitamin C. Found in both powder and liquid form, the liposomes (aka phospholipids) in this form encapsulate vitamin C to help transport it through the GI tract and into cells, so it can be absorbed.*
Fruit. In some supplements, vitamin C is sourced from whole fruits, such as berries (acerola, amla, and rose hips being particularly famous ones). PSA: These whole-food sourced vitamin C options will provide lower amounts of vitamin C (i.e., not your 1,000-milligram doses) because these fruits do not contain 100% vitamin C, so achieving very high doses would be costly for both the manufacturer and consumer.
Citrus bioflavonoids. Although citrus bioflavonoids are a unique set of phytonutrients and not a form of vitamin C, you might see them in specialized vitamin C supplements because they are wonderful plant-origin accessory bioactives that complement vitamin C and buffer it from oxidation.*
The amount of vitamin C in your supplement is just as important as where it’s coming from. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 milligrams in female adults and 90 milligrams in male adults. That’s a daily baseline level.
Of course, dosing of vitamin C in supplements depends on what the particular supplement is designed to achieve. “When considering a multi-ingredient product (e.g., an immune complex or multivitamin), look for 90 milligrams of vitamin C or more to cover both male and female needs,” explains Ferira. “With standalone, high-potency vitamin C supplements for adults, look for higher doses (i.e., anything from 250 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams).”
High-quality, clean ingredients
The supplement brands we recommend have a reputation for stellar quality. Whether they achieve this status through vigorous manufacturing and quality testing or additional, independent third-party testing, you can rest assured that each selection on this list is of the highest caliber.
Often, this commitment to quality is also reflected in a supplement’s ingredient list. We look for active ingredients with clinical science backing and products that are free from artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners, dyes–and, whenever possible, free from gluten, soy, dairy, and GMOs as well. In terms of excipients (i.e., the inactive, additional ingredients included in a supplement formula), the shorter and cleaner the list, the better.
The benefits of taking a vitamin C supplement.
Vitamin C is the body’s primary water-soluble antioxidant–which means it’s a true nutrient leader for its vast (and vital) antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions across organ systems throughout the body.* In addition to being essential for immune and skin health, vitamin C directly supports our joints, cells, brains, and hearts (talk about true head-to-toe coverage).*
Here are a few of vitamin C’s particularly noteworthy roles worth calling out:*
It enhances the bioavailability of iron by directly aiding in iron absorption.
It promotes heart health by supporting vascular function and helping maintain a healthy blood pressure.
When it comes to brain health, it’s involved in neurotransmitter synthesis and promotes cognitive function.
It supports both the production and preservation of collagen, our body’s most prevalent protein (think: skin, joints, gut, blood vessels, and more).
Best Vitamin C Supplements
Best overall: mindbodygreen vitamin C potency+
vitamin C potency+ delivers a powerful 1,000-milligram vitamin C dose (equivalent to 15 oranges!) of our body’s primary antioxidant in a gentle and optimized form. Backed by clinical research, this scientifically advanced vitamin C-lipid-citrus bioflavonoid trio demonstrates superior ability to raise vitamin C levels in our body, achieve retention in cells, and deliver antioxidant (free-radical-scavenging) plus anti-inflammatory (CRP-reduction) actions compared to other forms of vitamin C. For a powerful daily dose of bioavailable vegan C and a broad-spectrum array of citrus bioflavonoids from 100% citrus fruits, this optimized option (that’s also free of GMOs, gluten, soy, dairy, and major food allergens) is a no-brainer.*+
vitamin C potency+, mindbodygreen ($27/month)
Best liposomal vitamin C: Pure Encapsulations Liposomal Vitamin C liquid
If you’ve done any research on unique delivery forms, you’ve likely already heard of liposomal vitamin C. This liquid format is the best design to achieve true vitamin-containing liposomes, thanks to the sheering force of shaking the liquid. This helps the active (vitamin C, of course) mix with the sunflower-derived phospholipids (so don’t forget to shake). The addition of fat helps aid vitamin C’s absorption. We love that this formula is GMO-free and vegan, but do note: It requires refrigeration and some amount of endurance (instruction: hold 1 teaspoonful in mouth for 30 seconds).*
Liposomal Vitamin C liquid, Pure Encapsulations ($37)
mbg Creative / Pure encapsulations
Best timed-release vitamin C: Solaray Timed Release Super Bio Vitamin C
If you haven’t noticed yet, absorption is top priority when it comes to vitamin C supplementation (or any supplement, for that matter). Timing is the absorption angle in Solaray’s product, with a two-step timed release design aimed to deliver the first half of its 1,000-milligram dose of vitamin C immediately, then release its second half gradually as the day progresses. With citrus pectin plus bioflavonoids from lemons, the formula provides some complementary phytonutrients to the MVP: vitamin C.*
Timed Release Super Bio Vitamin C, Solaray ($26.49)
mbg Creative / Solaray
Best Ester-C: Solgar Ester-C Plus 500 mg Vitamin C Vegetable Capsules
Ester-C is a non-acidic form of vitamin C designed to be easier on the digestive system. It features calcium ascorbate–a mineral, “buffered” form of vitamin C and type of vitamin C metabolite that aids in white blood cell absorption and retention of vitamin C, according to Solgar. This mid-range formula delivers 500 milligrams of vitamin C, plus a modest amount of citrus bioflavonoids to provide some “buddy” phytochemicals and antioxidant power.*
Ester-C Plus 500 mg Vitamin C Vegetable Capsules, Solgar ($26.88)
mbg Creative / Solgar
Best immune complex with vitamin C: mindbodygreen immune support+
For a comprehensive immune complex that features vitamin C and delivers all the major players that bolster your innate and adaptive immune systems, mbg’s immune support+ is a primo choice. Delivering an immune-essential micronutrient trio (vitamin C, vitamin D3, and zinc bisglycinate) and a pair of cutting-edge bioactives (quercetin phytosome and beta-glucan), you benefit from a breakthrough formula with ingredients clinically shown to help strengthen your body’s natural defenses, prime your immune system, and foster a resilient immune response.*
immune support+, mindbodygreen ($49/month)
Best organic vitamin C: Pure Synergy Pure Radiance C
With a truly colorful lineup of non-GMO organic fruits and berries, Pure Radiance C offers a lower dose (120 milligrams) of vitamin C straight from nature. This organic, vegan formula combines Camu camu and acerola cherry extracts with a blend of ten additional berries and fruits to elevate antioxidant properties. If you’re looking for a fruit-focused, modestly dosed vitamin C supplement that is also dairy-free, gluten-free, and vegan, this Pure Synergy offering is ready when you are.*
Pure Radiance C, Pure Synergy ($24)
mbg Creative / Pure Synergy
Best vitamin C fruit blend: Garden of Life Living Vitamin C Antioxidant Blend
Another organic, fruit-focused, lower-dose vitamin C supplement, this Living Vitamin C Antioxidant Blend delivers a packed lineup of whole food-derived ingredients. Acerola cherry leads the pack, providing the 250-milligram dose of vitamin C, but also teams up with Camu camu plus two blends–whole citrus and antioxidant berry–that span a diverse array of organic botanicals (including mandarin orange, tart cherry and brown rice) in each two-caplet serving.*
Living Vitamin C Antioxidant Blend, Garden of Life ($18.39)
mbg Creative / Garden of Life
Best vitamin C with food + herb blend: MegaFood Ultra C-400 mg
When it comes to antioxidants, citrus fruits and berries shouldn’t get all the credit. In addition to a mid-range 400-milligram dose of ascorbic acid paired with some organic orange, this MegaFood vitamin C supplement offers a compact amount of ingredients derived from fruits, vegetables, grains, and herbs. (You’ll even find some brewer’s yeast in the mix.) While some of the key players are well-known for providing antioxidants (e.g., blueberry, carrot, orange, and cranberry) others (e.g., beetroot, broccoli, and parsley) may surprise you!*
Ultra C-400 mg, MegaFood ($29.82)
mbg Creative / MegaFood
Best multivitamin with C: mindbodygreen ultimate multivitamin+
For a truly comprehensive, next-generation multi that supports longevity and covers 100% of the daily value of vitamin C for women and men, look to mbg’s ultimate multivitamin+. Packed with an impressive 33 premium ingredients–including high-potency doses of vitamins C, A, D3, E, K1 + K2; a complete built-in B complex; premium forms of minerals; and six antioxidant-packed botanicals to support cellular resilience and graceful aging–this vegan multi formula addresses your daily micronutrient needs and so much more to promote immune, brain, heart, bone, muscle, beauty, eye, and whole-body health.*
ultimate multivitamin+, mindbodygreen ($59/month)
Best chewable vitamin C: Emergen-C Chewable Vitamin C 1000 mg
For a quick blast of vitamin C, these chewables (2 tablets per serving) deliver a potent 1,000-milligram dose of vitamin C plus a few other vitamins and electrolyte minerals–including zinc to promote healthy immune function, vitamins B6 and biotin for energy support, and fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin E. It’s important to note that while this is a great option if you’re in the market for a potent chewable vitamin C, it does contain added sugars and fish gelatin–a noteworthy fact for vegetarians, vegans, and those with fish allergen concerns.*
Chewable Vitamin C 1,000 mg, Emergen-C ($10.88)
mbg Creative / emergen-c
Best powder vitamin C: LivOn Labs Lypo-Spheric(R) Vitamin C
As mentioned before, vitamin C liposomal supplements are designed to encapsulate C in a lipid sphere (aka liposome) to help with absorption in the digestive tract and cells in the body. Lypo-Spheric(R) Vitamin C offers a 1,000-milligram dose of vitamin C as sodium ascorbate, phospholipids (derived from soy lecithin, so individuals with soy considerations, be aware), and a good source of choline–a vital nutrient that supports liver and nervous system function. Each serving of this vitamin C is individually packaged so you can support your immune system and skin health, even if you’re on the go.*
mbg Creative / LivOn Labs
Best vitamin C for kids: Nature Made Kids First(R) Vitamin C Gummies
As a parent, it can be tough (and at times, downright overwhelming) to ensure your little is getting all the essential nutrients they need each day. Thanks to these yummy, naturally flavored orange or tangerine Nature Made gummies, your kids (ages 4 and up) will be begging to take their daily vitamin C. One USP-verified gummy delivers a high-potency but totally safe dose for kiddos (i.e., 125 milligrams of ascorbic acid), that’s free from gluten, artificial flavors, synthetic dyes, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. (And how adorable is that monster on the bottle?)*
mbg Creative / Nature Made
Vitamin C is an incredible essential nutrient that performs countless antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions within the body to support everything from cardiovascular function to cellular resilience and immune response.* Although vitamin C is needed daily to support these physiological functions, a large chunk of the U.S. adult population has insufficient vitamin C levels (42%, to be exact) per their bloodwork. A high-quality supplement can complement your diet to help bridge that nutrient gap, ensure sufficient vitamin C status, and allow your body to leverage this readily available C however it needs.*
When considering adding a new supplement (vitamin C or otherwise) to your routine, it’s always a good idea to discuss your options with a health care provider. Whether you’re interested in one of the vitamin C supplements we’ve featured here or are using the criteria above to advance your hunt for a different supplement, we hope this guide helps you find the perfect vitamin C product to address your health needs.