How Much Vitamin C Should A Child Take? Dosage And Sources

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Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient for a child’s healthy growth and development. This nutrient, found in most fruits and vegetables, is the most easily available vitamin. However, despite its abundant availability, children can develop vitamin C deficiency.

Read this post to learn about the sources, recommended intake, and deficiency of vitamin C for kids.

Why Do Children Need Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is essential for several body functions that are vital for a child’s growth and development. The following are the benefits of vitamin C for kids (1) (2):

  • Helps in collagen production, which is crucial for the wound healing process
  • Reduces the damage of free radicals on the body due to its high antioxidant properties
  • Aids in protein metabolism
  • Helps maintain good immune health by stimulating the white blood cells
  • Assists in the absorption of nonheme iron (plant-derived)
  • Repairs and maintains healthy bones

Vitamin C is not synthesized endogenously (internally). Furthermore, it is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body does not store it. Hence, adequate daily intake is essential.

At What Age Can A Child Take Vitamin C?

Breast milk is a good source of vitamin C. Thus, infants start consuming this essential vitamin from their first meal. The oral consumption of vitamin C begins the day the infant is weaned since it is a natural component of many fresh fruits and vegetables. During this period, the infant receives vitamin C from a combination of breast milk or formula and food ( 3).

Children above six months with vitamin C deficiency can take dietary supplements. However, it is unsafe to administer supplements unless suggested bya medical professional (4) (5).

What Is The Daily Recommended Allowance Of Vitamin C For Children?

The requirement of vitamin C in children varies based on the age group. Here is the requirement as per the National Institutes of Health (2):

AgeRDA – Recommended Dietary Allowance
1–3 years15mg
4–8 years25mg
9–13 years45mg

Source: Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Consumers; National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements.

Can A Child Get Too Much Vitamin C?

A child can’t get too much vitamin C from dietary sources. In addition, since vitamin C is not stored in the body, any excess amount is flushed out with the urine. In rare cases, a mega dosage of vitamin Coccurswith dietary supplement intake. The daily upper limit of vitamin C for children is as follows (2):

AgeUpper Limit of Vitamin C
1–3 years400mg
4–8 years650mg
9–13 years1200mg

Source: Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Consumers; National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements.

What Are The Side Effects Of Excess Vitamin C?

An excessive intake of vitamin C causes gastrointestinal disturbances, including (6 ).

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Flatulence

A high dose of vitamin C could also cause iron overload in individuals with hemochromatosis, a hereditary condition causing excess iron absorption ( vitamin C helps in iron absorption). An iron overload could lead to toxicity, which may damage the body tissues (1).

What Are The Sources Of Vitamin C For Children?

Vitamin C is present in most fruits and vegetables. The following are its food sources (2) (6 ) (7):

  • Blackcurrants
  • Red pepper
  • Potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Grapefruit
  • Green peas
  • Kiwi fruit
  • Strawberries
  • Peppers
  • Green pepper
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, lime, lemon, and their juices)
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach and other leafy vegetables

Most cereals, food products, and beverages are fortified with vitamin C to compensate for its loss during processing.

Vitamin C is volatile. Preparatory methods such as cutting or heating decrease its effectiveness. Hence, consume the above foods immediately after preparation (8).

How To Know If A Child Has Vitamin C Deficiency?

Vitamin C deficiency is rare since a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is sufficient to meet its requirement. However, children who are picky eaters may develop mild deficiency. The symptoms of vitamin C deficiency in children may include (7).

  • Nose bleeds
  • Anemia
  • Dry hair
  • Gingivitis (gum inflammation and bleeding)
  • Dry skin
  • Enamel erosion
  • Low infection-fighting ability
  • Poor wound healing

Severe vitamin C deficiency for more than three months could cause a condition called scurvy. The symptoms of scurvy include (8) (9).

  • Easy bruising
  • Legs and arm pain
  • Bumps near hair follicles
  • Fatigue

How Is Vitamin C Deficiency Diagnosed?

A medical professional may establish a vitamin C deficiency by studying your child’s food patterns and symptoms. To confirm the diagnosis, they may recommend a blood test to observe the blood ascorbic acid levels. A blood ascorbic level of <0.2mg/dl indicates severe vitamin C deficiency (10).

If you notice any signs of vitamin C deficiency, visit your doctor before taking supplements. As discussed, a balanced diet is sufficient to ensure your child meets the vitamin C requirement. Also, a balanced diet reduces the risks of other vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Hence, ensure your child eats fruits and vegetables at least five times a day.


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Sindusha MS

Sindusha is a clinical nutritionist with over two years of experience in diverse fields of nutrition. She did her Masters in Food Science and Nutrition and has qualified UGC-NET. She interned as a quality control analyst and as a dietitian during her graduation. She was a part of several community nutrition projects and a phytochemical-based nutrition study during the same... more