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Don't Stress about Vitamin C

Photo: Brian Woodcock
Kick off 2013 with fewer things to worry about. C is critical, but getting enough is easy.

Getting enough C isn’t as hard as you think. Here are 3 things not to worry about:

Your body needs 75mg per day (90mg for men) to help bolster immunity, produce collagen, and heal cuts and bruises. As long as you eat a balanced diet that includes C-rich foods, you're fine. Four ounces of OJ get you halfway there. Toss a quarter-cup of diced red bell pepper and a cup of raw broccoli florets into a salad, and you're up 100mg.

We sent fresh-squeezed, boxed, bottled, and made-from-concentrate frozen orange juices to the lab for analysis. The good news: All contained about 43mg per 4-ounce serving. Yes, vitamin C breaks down when exposed to heat or light, but the concentrating process doesn't affect it, nor did the clear glass of the bottles.

A few small trials have shown that regular doses of C—the 75mg to 90mg you need daily—can shorten the length of a cold from, say, 12 days to 11. But there isn't much evidence in favor of megadosing, though in modest amounts it won't hurt (the body tends to flush the extra out). Your best defense: washing hands frequently and eating a balanced diet with a variety of nutrients.