The benefits of vitamin C and zinc

by Hannah de Gruchy November 16, 2023

The benefits of vitamin C and zinc

Vitamins and minerals are referred to as micronutrients, as they’re required in minute, or micro, amounts (as opposed to the macronutrients; carbohydrates, proteins, and fats that are required in larger amounts to provide calories and energy).

Each different micronutrient has its specific role within the body, and some work synergistically to provide extra support. An example of two micronutrients working together in such a way is vitamin C and zinc.

Vitamin C and zinc both help to support a healthy immune system, which in turn helps to protect us from infections and disease. For this reason, some people choose to take vitamin C and zinc supplements together, especially in the colder months when colds, flu, and other winter bugs are rife.

Vitamin C and zinc: Fast facts

  • Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has antioxidant properties. It protects the immune system from free radical damage.
  • Zinc has an essential role in the workings of the immune response, including the complex process of immune cell signalling.
  • Together, they work synergistically to support a healthy immune system.
  • A strong, healthy immune system can reduce our chances of falling foul to common infections, such as colds, flu, and the winter vomiting bug, that are more prevalent during the autumn and winter months.
  • Vitamin C and zinc can be taken together in supplement form and can be especially beneficial during the colder months to help keep viruses at bay.

What are the benefits of vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that has various roles within the body. It helps to protect the cells and keep them functioning as normal, maintains healthy skin, and assists in wound healing. It also helps the body manufacture collagen, which plays an important role in the skin and keeps the joints supple and cushioned.

Happy family running

Crucially, vitamin C is essential for good immunity. It has powerful antioxidant properties that help to protect the cells of the immune system from free radical damage. Free radicals are unstable molecules of oxygen that have lost an electron. They move around the body scavenging electrons from stable oxygen molecules and in doing so, can cause cellular damage that could potentially weaken the immune system.

Antioxidants, such as vitamin C, helpfully donate spare electrons and essentially neutralise or “mop up” free radicals, preventing damage.

If we don’t consume enough antioxidants in our diet, through foods such as fruits and vegetables, free radical damage can build up and lead to oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is linked to many chronic lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.

Therefore, to support a strong immune system, antioxidants, especially vitamin C, are important – through our diet, supplements, or both.

What are the benefits of zinc?

Zinc is a mineral that the body cannot manufacture, meaning that it’s essential that we consume it in our diet. It’s necessary for various functions, including the manufacture of proteins and DNA, wound healing, and reactions involving enzymes.

Like vitamin C, it’s also necessary for a strong immune system. Zinc helps in the manufacture and function of the cells of the immune system and is important in the complex process of immune cell signalling. A zinc deficiency can lead to a weakened immune response.

Studies suggest that taking zinc supplements can reduce the length of a common cold by up to 33% and significantly reduce the risk of infections in older adults.

Why take vitamin C and zinc together?

Our immunity is our defence mechanism against invading pathogens that could make us unwell. Supporting it with the nutrients it needs will help to ensure it’s working to protect us.

Taking vitamin C and zinc supplements can therefore be seen as doubly beneficial for our immune system – helping to protect it from free radical damage and to support its needs in cellular manufacturing and functioning.

How to take vitamin C and zinc

Since vitamin C and zinc have a synergistic relationship, these two micronutrients can be taken at the same time, to gain the most benefit. Some multi-vitamin and mineral supplements contain both, but they may also contain nutrients you may not require. Therefore, two separate supplements may be beneficial, especially since they tend to contain higher levels of individual nutrients than “catch-all” multivitamins.


Vitamin C - calcium ascorbate capsules – G&G
Vitamin C capsules from G&G Vitamins
contain a form of vitamin C called calcium ascorbate. This is a form of buffered, non-acidic vitamin C that’s easier to digest, making it ideal for those with a sensitive stomach. It also means that the vitamin C is absorbed more quickly. Free from artificial filler and binders, these capsules contain no gluten, soya or lactose and are suitable for vegans.


Vitamin C with bioflavonoids – G&G

Alternatively, Vitamin C with bioflavonoids capsules, also from G&G Vitamins, contain vitamin C alongside extra, naturally occurring antioxidants derived from citrus fruits. They too, are free from anything artificial.

Zinc picolinate capsules – G&G

G&G Vitamins also produce Zinc picolinate capsules, that contain a form of zinc that’s been combined with amino acids, making them easier to digest. Like all supplements from this brand, they contain no artificial fillers, gluten, soya, or lactose. They can be taken alongside either of the vitamin C supplements mentioned above.

The best time to take vitamin C and zinc supplements

There is no “best” time to take vitamin supplements, but the advice is to take them every day, at roughly the same time. They’re best taken with food to aid absorption, and for many people, this means taking them with their breakfast each day.

However, it’s still beneficial to take them later in the day – it’s whatever works best for you, but make sure you get into a routine of taking them regularly at the same time.

Side effects of vitamin C and zinc

Both vitamin C and zinc are considered safe supplements for most people. However, it’s widely accepted that taking more than 2,000mg (or 2g) of vitamin C per day could lead to digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhoea, and reflux. Regularly taking more than 2,000mg a day could also lead to kidney stones.

Similarly, taking more than 40mg of zinc each day could result in diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, headaches, and flu-like symptoms.

Be mindful of any other supplements you’re taking that could also contain vitamin C and zinc to ensure you’re not taking too much.

Supporting your immune system with vitamin C and zinc

Eating a healthy and varied diet, rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources with a small amount of healthy, unsaturated fat should provide all the micronutrients you need to support your immune system.

However, it’s not always possible to consume such a health-giving diet, and things can be compounded by illness, restrictive diets, and living a stressful, busy life, not having the time to prepare fresh food. Therefore, supplements provide a beneficial “top-up” of the nutrients we might be lacking.

Taking vitamin C and zinc supplements each day may help to keep your immune system strong and supported, making it less likely that you’ll succumb to common winter bugs this season and beyond.

Join us to get updates and special deals monthly:

The benefits of vitamin C and zinc - family Ageless banner

Hannah de Gruchy
Hannah de Gruchy


Health and wellness author and biologist specialised in sustainability, nutrition and eco-living.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Ageless Buzz - Healthy living blog

Can you take too much collagen?
Can you take too much collagen?

by Hannah de Gruchy March 25, 2024

The best anti-ageing supplements
The best anti-ageing supplements

by for the Ageless Team February 20, 2024

Supplementing with Lion’s Mane mushroom
Supplementing with Lion’s Mane mushroom

by Hannah de Gruchy January 23, 2024