Does Vitamin C Help You Stay Awake?

Today's world requires you maintain a constant energy level. Between juggling work, family, fitness and health you cannot afford to feel tired. Many foods and beverages advertise they help you stay awake, but they fill you full of sugar and caffeine. If you are looking for a more natural way to keep your eyes open and your body alert, ask your doctor about taking essential vitamins like vitamin C. Vitamin C supports vital functions in your body, and although it does not work to specifically keep you awake, taking vitamin C helps prevent fatigue.

Oranges serve as a natural source of vitamin C. (Image: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)


Anemia is a condition characterized by a low number of functioning red blood cells. Your red blood cells carry oxygen to the cells throughout the body to use for energy, so a decrease in circulating oxygen causes fatigue – the main symptom of anemia. The most common cause of anemia is an iron deficiency, because you need iron to produce the oxygen-carrying protein in red blood cells known as hemoglobin. Vitamin C helps your body efficiently absorb iron. A lack of vitamin C can lead to an iron deficiency, cause fatigue and make it difficult for you to stay awake.

Fat Metabolism

Vitamin C aids in the conversion of fat into energy, helping fight fatigue and keep you awake and alert. Your body uses vitamin C to produce carnitine, a small molecule that transports fat into the internal organ of the cell known as the mitochondria. Once inside the mitochondria, the fat gets converted into energy. A vitamin C deficiency lowers the level of carnitine, decreases the amount of fat able to get into the mitochondria and causes an energy shortage.

Immune Booster

If you need a product to help keep you awake all night, vitamin C does not provide that instant energy. However, taking vitamin C when you are sleep-deprived can help prevent the onset of illness. Vitamin C boosts your immunity by stimulating the production of white blood cells. Taking vitamin C, under your doctor's supervision, can increase the number of neutrophils, lymphocytes and phagocytes, which help fight off foreign bacteria and viruses.


A dietary supplement marketed under the name Emergen-C states that it boosts your energy and helps keep you awake. Although it contains 1,000 mg of vitamin C, it also contains other nutrients, including several of the B vitamins. Since the B vitamins help your body convert food into energy, it is likely the B vitamins that promote the energy boost over the vitamin C. Natural sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers and potatoes. Consuming natural sources of vitamin C can help you meet the Institute of Medicine's daily recommended intake of 90 mg per day for men and 75 mg of vitamin C per day for women.

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