Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant that is essential whether or not you’re pregnant. Although it’s a well-known immunity booster, vitamin C also plays an important role in your baby’s development and may even reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain cancers.
If you are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, you need to be careful about taking vitamins or any other type of supplements. Some can do more harm than good, so it’s always best to check with your doctor before taking supplements.
With all of these benefits in mind, you may be wondering if you should take a vitamin C supplement during pregnancy — especially if you’re hoping to strengthen your immune system during cold and flu season.
Here, your complete guide to vitamin C, including how much moms-to-be need and the C-rich foods that can do your body (and baby) good.
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin you need every single day, and pregnancy is no exception. The human body can’t store vitamin C, so you’ll need a fresh supply from your diet daily.
During pregnancy, vitamin C is vital for both mom and baby. You need it for tissue repair and wound healing, and it helps your baby’s bones and teeth develop, too. Vitamin C also aids in the body’s production of collagen, helps bolster immunity and, on top of it all, improves your ability to absorb iron.
Some studies link low blood levels of vitamin C during pregnancy to preeclampsia, which is why it’s extra important to make sure you’re consuming enough when you’re expecting.
Pregnant women who are 19 and older should aim for about 85 milligrams of vitamin C daily. To put this into perspective, a 6-ounce glass of OJ plus 1 cup strawberries will deliver more than double your daily dose of vitamin C. Aim to incorporate three servings of vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies per day and you’ll be well on your way.
You might be wondering if it’s safe — or necessary — to take vitamin C supplements while pregnant, especially if you’re hoping to boost your immunity during cold and flu season. However, for most pregnant women, it’s relatively easy to get the recommended amounts of vitamin C through diet and a good prenatal vitamin.
The latest research on taking vitamin C while pregnant is mixed and limited, and the World Health Organization (WHO) does not recommend adding an additional vitamin C supplement to your prenatal. If you’re concerned that you’re getting enough vitamin C through diet, ask your practitioner if a vitamin C supplement is right for you.The bottom line? Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet with plenty of C-rich foods and taking a prenatal vitamin should more than cover your bases.
We researched dozens of vitamin C supplements and evaluated them for reviews, additional ingredients, form, taste, allergens, and dosage. Each of the supplements chosen in this article were determined to be the best of these factors.
Here are the best vitamin C supplements on the market today.Our Top PicksBest Overall: Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C This supplement provides only Vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) and no other herbs or complimentary ingredients.Best Organic: Garden of Life Vitamin C with AmlaGreat for on-the-go days, buyers can support their immune system and enjoy the antioxidant capacity of Vitamin C with this spray.Best Capsule: Solgar Vitamin C 1000 mg.The capsule is vegan, kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO.Best Tasting : NOW Chewable Vitamin C-500In addition to being low in sugar, this product is also free of many top allergens.Best Boosted: Pure Encapsulations Essential-C & Flavonoids With over 600 milligrams of Vitamin C, these hypoallergenic capsules also provide two powerful nutrients: quercetin and rutin.Best Gummy: MegaFood C Defense GummiesJust 10 calories and 2 grams of sugar, these gummies can be consumed any time of the day and on an empty stomach.
Best Overall: Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C
- Suitable for those with dietary restrictions
- Time-released capsule
- Can be difficult to swallow
If you are looking for a quality supplement that won’t break the bank, Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C 500 milligrams is the choice for you. Each bottle contains 100 capsules, so you will have at least three months supply. Nature’s Bounty keeps this supplement simple, providing only vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) and no other herbs or complimentary ingredients in their product.
Free of artificial flavor, sweetener, sugar, starch, milk, lactose, gluten, wheat, yeast, and fish, this product ticks off many boxes for those with dietary restrictions. This product also received an A rating by Labdoor, an independent supplement quality testing company.2
Key nutrients: vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) | Form: capsules | Dose: 1 capsule | Amount of vitamin C: 500 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No | Added sugar: None
Best Organic: Garden of Life Vitamin C with Amla
- Designed for both children and adult use
- Contains bioflavonoids for additional antioxidant support
- Requires refrigeration for optimal freshness
- Less than 100% daily value of vitamin C
Garden of Life’s My Kind Organics Vitamin C Spray is the top pick for an organic supplement. Shoppers can stay on top of their vitamin C game with this organic spray. Great for travel or busy on-the-go days, buyers can support their immune system and enjoy the antioxidant capacity of vitamin C with this easy-to-consume product.
The serving size for 60 milligrams of vitamin C is five sprays and it is best to refrigerate the product after opening, as the vitamin C in this product is sourced from an organic food blend. No need to worry about added sugars or stevia in this product, it is free of sweeteners, preservatives, and pesticides. It’s also certified Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and NSF Certified Gluten-Free.
Key nutrients: vitamin C (from organic food blend) | Form: spray | Dose: 5 sprays | Amount of vitamin C: 60 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: Yes | Added sugar: None
Best Capsule: Solgar Vitamin C 1000 mg
- Suitable for those with dietary restrictions
- High dosage may not be suitable for all
Solgar has been in the dietary supplement industry for over 70 years. Their products are made from high-quality ingredients, and their manufacturing facilities follow strict guidelines from the FDA.
One vegan capsule provides 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C, which is more than 1,000 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. The capsule is vegan, kosher, gluten-free, dairy-free, and non-GMO. As a bonus, this product has been approved by ConsumerLab.com, an independent company that tests products for purity, quality, and potency. It is important to note that that is a higher dose of vitamin C.
A product of this dose might be more suitable for those who engage in vigorous exercise, smokers, or those who do not include many fruits and vegetables in their diet.
Key nutrients: vitamin C | Form: capsule | Dose: 1 capsule | Amount of vitamin C: 1,000 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No | Added sugar: NoneThe 9 Best Fiber Supplements of 2022, According to a Dietitian
Best Tasting : NOW Chewable Vitamin C-500
- Contains citrus bioflavonoids for additional antioxidant supportCons
- Contains sugar alcohols
Finding a good tasting supplement takes a bit more time in the supplement aisle, but we have done the work for you. NOW Foods C-500 is our top pick for the best tasting vitamin C supplement. One of these chewable supplements contains 500 milligrams of vitamin C and only one gram of sugar.
In addition to being low in sugar, this product is also free of many top allergens, such as wheat, soy, milk, tree nuts, gluten, and egg. NOW Foods is a leader in the supplement industry and is a budget-friendly choice that does not skimp on purity or quality of products. They manufacture their products in an NPA A-rated GMP certified facility, which means that every aspect of the NOW manufacturing process has been examined.
Key nutrients: vitamin C (as sodium ascorbate and ascorbic acid) | Form: chewable tablets | Dose: 1 tablet | Amount of vitamin C: 500 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: No | Organic: No | Added sugar: 1 gram; also contains sugar alcohols and stevia
Best Boosted: Pure Encapsulations Essential-C & Flavonoids
- Contains calcium
- Contains bioflavonoids for additional antioxidant support
Looking for a vitamin C supplement that packs a punch? Check out this potent blend of vitamin C and Flavonoids from Pure Encapsulations. In addition to providing over 600 milligrams of vitamin C, these hypoallergenic capsules also provide two powerful nutrients: quercetin and rutin, free radical scavengers that complement the role of vitamin C.
Pure Encapsulations products are free from many common allergens like wheat, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, and gluten. They’re also free of artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners, as well as coatings and shellacs, unnecessary binders, and preservatives.
Key nutrients: vitamin C (from calcium ascorbate blend) | Form: capsule | Dose: 1 capsule | Amount of vitamin C: 619 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: No | Added sugar: noneThe 8 Best B-Complex Supplements of 2022, According to a Dietitian
Best Gummy: MegaFood C Defense Gummies
- Contains organic whole orange and super food blend
- Contains added sugars
Megafood is one of the most trusted brands in the supplement industry because of their commitment to transparency. These citrus-flavored gummies promote a healthy immune system with 180 milligrams of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) from actual organic oranges.
Consumers will enjoy the tangy citrus taste of juicy, farm-fresh oranges without high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin, artificial colors, or sugary coatings. With just 10 calories and two grams of sugar, these gummies can be consumed at any time of the day and on an empty stomach.
These gummies are Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified B Corp, and Certified Glyphosate Residue Free. They’re also tested for over 125 herbicides and pesticides and are free of gluten, dairy, and soy.
Key nutrients: vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) | Form: gummy | Dose: 2 gummies | Amount of vitamin C: 180 milligrams | Gluten-free: Yes | Non-GMO: Yes | Organic: Yes | Added sugar: 2 grams
When picking a supplement, one of the most important criteria to consider is purity, potency, and quality. For this reason, Nature’s Bounty Vitamin C is the best overall pick.
What to Look for in a Vitamin C Supplement
Gummy: Gummy supplements are a good choice for those who do not like to swallow pills. When shopping for a gummy supplement, pay attention to the grams of sugar per serving, ideally it is less than four grams per serving and contains no harmful ingredients like food dyes and high fructose corn syrup. It is always recommended to brush your teeth after consuming a sugar containing gummy to prevent tooth decay or gum inflammation.
Lozenge: Lozenges are another easy-to-consume option for those who prefer not to swallow pills, but not all lozenges are created equal. Some have more sugar than others and some focus on natural ingredients while others contain artificial colors and flavors. Look for products that have 4 grams of sugar or less per serving.
Spray: Spray Vitamin C is a fabulous choice for those on the go. Toting around a scooper to measure powder can be frustrating and having to rely on always having a glass of water to mix powder or swallow a tablet is difficult when traveling. Spray supplements also offer flexibility in the dose of Vitamin C and might be a good option for families with different needs or different seasons of the year when you diet or lifestyle may change.
We like Mykind Organics Vitamin C Spray . There is no need to worry about added sugars or stevia in this product. In addition to being free of sweeteners it is also free of preservatives, pesticides and is certified Kosher, Non-GMO Project Verified, and NSF Certified Gluten-Free.
Softgel/Tablet/Capsule: For consumers who are comfortable with swallowing supplements, you will find the most variety of options available in softgel or tablet form. If you are following a specific diet such as kosher, vegan or vegetarian, look out for products that feature these special labels.
Powder: Most consumers will be familiar with the packet of Vitamin C powder that is often featured at the checkout counter in grocery stores and pharmacies. Most conventional powders on the market, like Emergen-C, feature additional vitamins and minerals for more potent immune support.
Though vitamins and minerals work synergistically, if you are already taking other supplements like a multivitamin or B-Complex buyers should be conscious about overdoing their intake and opt for a powder that contains only Vitamin C. In addition, because Vitamin C is an acid, powders containing high doses of Vitamin C may contribute to tooth erosion or decay3 when consumed frequently.
When it comes to dietary supplements of Vitamin C, there are many different forms available. There does not appear to be definitive research to support the use of one form of Vitamin C over the other.
For most, Vitamin C supplements are safe for general use. However, it is always important to discuss supplement changes with a health care provider and seek medical help for illness.
Labels to Look for
Non-GMO: A Non-GMO Project Certificate of Verification (COV) demonstrates that an individual product is Non-GMO Project Verified4. According to the Non-GMO Project, the definition of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) is “plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs”5. GMO Crops are engineered to withstand application of toxic herbicides which might have negative health effects.
Third Party Certification: Shoppers might see labels such as “CL, Labdoor, NSF, or USP”. These labels indicate that a company has undergone voluntary third party testing of their products to check for purity, potency and quality. These third party companies will also test for heavy metals and other contaminants.
A Note about Organic: Vitamin C dietary supplements can be made from whole foods, as well as made synthetically. Unless there is a food source used in the production of the supplement, it will be difficult to find a Vitamin C supplement containing an organic label. For supplements, an organic option is not necessarily better or preferred.
Vitamin C supplements may contain additional ingredients known to support the immune system. Common nutrients that are added to Vitamin C supplements are Zinc, and B Vitamins. In addition, some products will add bioflavonoids which are believed to work synergistically with and increase the efficacy of Vitamin C.
Always check the ingredient list to ensure that all of the ingredients are safe for your individual needs. Many times supplements that have additional ingredients may be more expensive than others. Consider how you can consume these other nutrients from food to save money and keep things simple.
Contraindications and Dosage
The dose you need of any supplement will depend on age, gender, dietary intake, presence of deficiency and specific health conditions. The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for vitamin C, as established by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine (IOM), for healthy males over the age of 19 is 90 milligrams per day and 75 milligrams per day for women over the age of 19. Individuals who smoke require 35 milligrams per day more of vitamin C than non-smokers. The needs for women increase during pregnancy and lactation to 85 milligrams and 120 milligrams per day respectively.6
Although Vitamin C is water-soluble and does not stay in the body for long, large doses can cause adverse effects, including heartburn, nausea, headaches, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Although Vitamin C is generally considered safe, it is always wise to update your healthcare provider with what you are taking and be on the lookout for side effects.