Ascorbic acid is another name for vitamin C.
One dose a day of 25-75 mg is sufficient to prevent vitamin C deficiency. Higher doses are sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat a condition called scurvy (although this occurs only rarely in the UK).
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 and follow the directions given.
About ascorbic acid
|Type of medicine||A vitamin|
|Used for||Preventing and treating vitamin C deficiency|
|Also called||Vitamin C|
|Available as||Tablets, chewable tablets, soluble tablets|
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 bleeding from the gums, bruising, 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 that this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking ascorbic acid it is important that you speak with your doctor or pharmacist:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
How to take ascorbic acid
- Before you start taking the tablets, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
- Ascorbic acid tablets are usually taken once a day. Doses of 25-75 mg are sufficient to prevent vitamin C deficiency. You can take the tablets at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, either before or after meals. If you have been prescribed a higher dose (more than 250 mg), your doctor will recommend that you take this in divided doses. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you.
- Do not take more than the dose which has been recommended or prescribed.
- 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 for a missed dose.
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, watermelon and kiwi fruit. Vegetables rich in vitamin C include spinach, green and red peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Try to include some of these fruits and vegetables regularly in the foods that 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 can be associated with unwanted effects (mainly stomach upset). If you experience any symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
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
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, contact a doctor or the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice.
This medicine is for you. Do not give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Ascorbic Acid 50 mg tablets; Dalkeith Laboratories Ltd, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Dated March 2013.
British National Formulary, 76th Edition (Sep 2018); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.