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Can You Give Children Vitamin C Supplements?

author image Elizabeth Wolfenden
Elizabeth Wolfenden has been a professional freelance writer since 2005 with articles published on a variety of blogs and websites. She specializes in the areas of nutrition, health, psychology, mental health and education. Wolfenden holds a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's degree in counseling from Oakland University.
Can You Give Children Vitamin C Supplements?
Talk to a doctor if you are concerned about your child's vitamin C intake.

Approximately 29 percent of children in the United States take a dietary supplement that contains vitamin C, according to a survey published in the October 2007 issue of “Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.” While taking a supplement containing vitamin C is generally not harmful for children, parents should monitor their children’s overall vitamin C intake to ensure they do not get too much. If you have specific questions or concerns about your child’s vitamin C intake, contact your doctor.

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Recommended Intake

The recommended dietary intake for vitamin C is 15 mg for children between the ages of 1 and 3, 25 mg for children between the ages of 4 and 8, 45 mg for children between the ages of 9 and 13 and 75 mg for teenagers between 14 and 18 years old. Children who consistently fail to get this amount through their diet may benefit from vitamin C supplementation.

Tolerable Upper Intake

Although vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, the Institute of Medicine has established a tolerable upper intake level for this vitamin. The tolerable upper intake level is the amount your child could safely take without increasing the risk of adverse reactions. The tolerable upper intake levels of vitamin C is 400 mg a day for children between 1 and 3 years old, 650 mg a day for children between 4 and 8 years old, 1,200 mg a day for children between 9 and 13 years old and 1,800 mg a day for teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 years old. Monitor your child’s intake of vitamin C through both food and supplements to make sure he does not consume more than he needs. Getting too much vitamin C may cause abdominal cramps, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal disturbances.


The American Academy of Pediatrics states that children who eat a healthy and balanced diet do not typically need any sort of vitamin supplementation. Determine how much vitamin C your child gets from food alone. If he already meets his recommended dietary allowance and does not have a medical condition that interferes with vitamin C absorption, he does not need a vitamin C supplement.


Instead of giving your child a vitamin C supplement, consider increasing her intake of vitamin C through the kinds of foods she eats. Foods high in vitamin C include raw red peppers, orange juice, oranges, grapefruit juice, kiwi, raw green peppers, broccoli, strawberries, Bussells sprouts and tomato juice. Use the nutrition labels on the foods or an online nutritional database like MyPlate to determine the specific amount of vitamin C in each food.


Although some believe that large doses of vitamin C may cure or prevent the common cold, this may not be true. There is conflicting evidence regarding the affect vitamin C intake has on viruses like the common cold. As of August 2011, it appears as if a dose of at least 200 mg a day may shorten the duration of the common, cold but it does not seem that vitamin C supplements are beneficial after the onset of cold symptoms. Talk to your child’s pediatrician about the latest research if you intend to use vitamin C supplements to prevent or treat illnesses.

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