About ascorbic acid
|Type of medicine||A vitamin|
|Used for||Preventing and treating vitamin C deficiency|
|Also called||Vitamin C|
Ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C. Our bodies need vitamin C to make a substance called collagen which is required for the health and repair of our skin, bones, teeth and cartilage. We get vitamin C from the food we eat, particularly fruit and vegetables. A lack of vitamin C in our diet over a period of time can lead to a condition called scurvy, although this is rare in the UK. Symptoms of scurvy include bruising or bleeding easily, and joint and muscle pains. It has also been suggested that a lack of vitamin C may cause poor wound healing and problems fighting infection, although this has not been proved. Vitamin C deficiency can be treated with supplements of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid tablets) and eating foods which are rich in vitamin C.
Ascorbic acid is an ingredient of a number of vitamin preparations and some cough and cold remedies that are available to buy from retail outlets.
Before taking ascorbic acid
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking ascorbic acid it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding. This is because you are not advised to take any medicines while you are expecting a baby unless they have been prescribed by a doctor.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take ascorbic acid
- Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside your pack.
- Ascorbic acid tablets are usually taken once a day. Doses of 25-75 mg are sufficient to prevent vitamin C deficiency. If you have been prescribed a higher dose (more than 250 mg), your doctor may recommend that you take this in divided doses. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you. You can take the tablets at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, either before or after meals.
- Do not take more than the recommended dose.
- Some ascorbic acid tablets should be chewed before they are swallowed, and others need to be dissolved in water first. Check the label on the container of your supply and follow the directions given.
- If you forget to take a dose, don't worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (like oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons), berries (such as blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries), cantaloupe melon and watermelon, kiwi fruit, and vegetables such as spinach, green and red peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and potatoes. Try to include these in the foods you eat.
Can ascorbic acid cause problems?
Although ascorbic acid is unlikely to cause any side-effects at the recommended doses, large doses taken over a long period of time may be associated with unwanted effects. If you experience any symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store ascorbic acid
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Ascorbic Acid Tablets 500 mg Label Leaflet; Actavis UK Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated October 2007.
- British National Formulary; 63rd Edition (Mar 2012) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
|Original Author: Helen Allen||Current Version: Helen Allen||Peer Reviewer: Dr Helen Huins|
|Last Checked: 26/09/2012||Document ID: 3332 Version: 23||© EMIS|
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.