Vitamin C VS Calcium: Are They The Same?

We all know that vitamins and minerals are the essential nutrients we need for a healthy, energetic life — but there’s no question that things can quickly get confusing as we learn more about them. That’s partly explained by the fact that it’s quite a complex topic and partly by the synonyms floating around. For example, you may hear vitamin B7 referred to as biotin, vitamin D2 as ergocalciferol, and vitamin B3 as either niacin or nicotinic acid! 

So, is vitamin C the same as calcium? As with every question, this one has two different answers — one that gets straight to the point and one that explains everything you need to know in more detail.

Vitamin C VS Calcium: The TLDR Version

  • Vitamin C and calcium are both essential micronutrients needed for good health.
  • Vitamin C and calcium are not the same thing. 
  • Calcium is the most plentiful mineral in the human body. It is essential for healthy teeth and strong bones, but it’s also important for muscle functioning, blood clotting, and nerve signals. 
  • Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and a powerful antioxidant. Getting enough contributes to a hardy immune system, faster wound healing, cell regeneration, and tissue growth. 

What Is the Difference Between Vitamin C and Calcium?

So, is calcium and vitamin C the same thing? If you came here for an answer to that question, you aren’t alone. Many people have wondered, and while the answer is “no,” there’s a fairly easy explanation — calcium and vitamin C are often combined in supplements, so you’ll see something like “vitamin C + calcium” on the package. 

They’re also both essential micronutrients. In this context, that means your body can’t produce vitamin C or calcium on its own (unlike with, say, vitamin D or vitamin K). Instead, you need to get them from the foods you eat or from supplements. Ensuring you have enough vitamin C and calcium in your diet is absolutely crucial for good health, and both nutrients play an important role in maintaining strong bones. 

Beyond those similarities, however, vitamin C and calcium are very different. One is a vitamin — an organic compound that comes from plants and animals — and the other is a mineral, an element that comes from rocks, soil, or water. While vitamin C and calcium are both necessary for a healthy life, and people with deficiencies can start to develop health complications as a result, they have different functions in the human body. 

Are you ready for a crash course that takes you far beyond the question, “Is vitamin C calcium?” A closer look at how these essential micronutrients help you stay healthy can potentially revolutionize your diet, so we hope you’ll join us to learn more! 

A Practical Overview of Vitamin C

As one of the most famous vitamins around, you likely already know more about vitamin C than you might think. We’ll fill in the rest of the blanks for you right here, so you can take great care of yourself by making sure you get enough of this important vitamin.

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, together with all the B vitamins. This means the vitamin C you consume isn’t stored in your fat cells (as with fat-soluble vitamins). Your body only takes the vitamin C it needs, and if you eat or drink more, the rest will be expelled through your urine.

Why Do You Need Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an all-around hero. As an antioxidant, it protects all your cells from free radicals, damaging molecules that contribute to aging and disease. Vitamin C keeps your immune system strong by supporting the production of new white blood cells and helping them function better. 

It’s also needed for the production of collagen. You may have heard about this protein in the context of skincare, but collagen goes more than skin deep. It’s needed for healthy blood vessels and bones, too, explaining why vitamin C is so important when you want to support wound healing. 

Beyond these essentials, vitamin C helps keep your eyes healthy (reducing your risk of cataracts), boosts your mood and thinking, and potentially helps you get over minor illnesses like the common cold and stomach bugs more quickly. 

One final thing you should be aware of? Vitamin C greatly improves the absorption of certain minerals. The human body doesn’t absorb iron, essential for healthy blood, energy, and athletic performance, very well on its own, so getting enough vitamin C also helps you keep your iron levels up. In addition to that, vitamin C helps your body process calcium more effectively, perhaps explaining why some people think the two are part of one whole.

What Are the Symptoms of a Vitamin C Deficiency?

Because your body can’t make vitamin C on its own, food, drinks, and supplements are your only sources. When you don’t get enough for prolongeds period of time, your body can’t carry out the functions that require vitamin C very well — and you may develop symptoms as a result. 

Some of the most common symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include:

  • Dry, sallow skin
  • Curved fingernails with visible ridges (lines)
  • Easy bruising
  • Slow wound healing
  • Swollen and painful joints
  • Weak bones (also associated with calcium deficiency, perhaps explaining why many people think vitamin C is calcium)
  • Red, bleeding gums (and, in extreme cases, tooth loss)
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Getting sick often
  • Weight gain for no apparent reason

It’s important to remember that these symptoms can have many different causes, and a vitamin C deficiency is just one of them. Definitely see a doctor if you notice any of these issues! 

What Are the Best Food Sources of Vitamin C?

Many people know vitamin C as the citrus vitamin. While lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits are fantastic sources of vitamin C, you can also find it in plenty of other foods — including many veggies. Some of the best sources of vitamin C beyond citrus fruits include berries, kiwi, papaya, pineapple, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, tomatoes, and bell peppers.

Not everyone knows that cooking vegetables for too long can lower the amount of vitamin C you get from them — but now, you do! Steaming is a better way to preserve that goodness, and of course, raw fruits are always great. 

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

The daily recommended vitamin C intake is 90 milligrams for men and 75 mg for women. Children need between 15 (at ages one to three) and 75 (for teenagers) milligrams per day. You may need a little extra vitamin C if you’re pregnant, nursing, a smoker (yes, that includes vaping), an athlete, or someone under mental or physical stress. This includes certain medical conditions. If you’re not sure, ask your doctor or pharmacist whether you’d benefit from supplements!

A Practical Overview of Calcium

You asked, “Is calcium vitamin C?” With that look at vitamin C out of the way, it’s time to figure out what calcium does in the body. That way, you’ll understand exactly how different the two are, but also why they’re both crucial.

What Is Calcium?

Calcium is a mineral — the most abundant one in your body. While you have plenty in your teeth and bones, your body can’t make more on its own. That’s why you have to get it from your diet or through supplements.

Why Do You Need Calcium?

You need calcium for strong bones, healthy teeth, and proper muscle function and tone. (Remember that your heart is a muscle, too.) It’s also necessary for communication between nerves, blood clotting, and hormone and enzyme functioning. When you look at vitamin C vs calcium, it’s interesting that calcium plays a role in cell health, too — and as with vitamin C, your teeth can really start to suffer when you don’t get enough.

What Are the Symptoms of a Calcium Deficiency?

Most of the calcium in your body is stored in your bones and teeth — but the rest of your body needs some, too. When you don’t get enough in your diet, your body gets creative and takes some from your bones. This can lead to weakened bones and, in extreme cases, osteoporosis (brittle bones that fracture easily). 

Osteoporosis is the main concern with a calcium deficiency, but people who don’t get enough calcium can also experience:

  • Muscle cramps
  • Nails that break easily
  • Pins and needles (tingling)
  • Tiredness 
  • Dental issues, including gum disease, cavities, and loss of enamel
  • Easy bleeding and bruising

The last three are interesting for people who asked, “Is vitamin C calcium?” No, but a deficiency can cause some similar symptoms. If you recognize any of these issues, please see a doctor and get tested for a calcium deficiency, but remember that these symptoms can have many possible causes.

What Are the Best Food Sources of Calcium?

Dairy products, including milk, yogurt, kefir, and cheese, are the most famous food sources of calcium. Other foods that are especially high in calcium include sardines, kale, and collard greens. You’ll also find some calcium in spinach, almonds, chia seeds, and many beans. 

Because calcium is so important, many popular convenience foods are fortified with it — in which case the label should clearly say so. Orange juice, breakfast cereals, bread, and tofu are all often fortified with calcium.

How Much Calcium Do You Need?

Most adults need 1,000 milligrams of calcium for optimal health. Some people need a little extra. Pregnant and breastfeeding women need 1,300 milligrams, while women who are over 50 or are postmenopausal need 1,200. Men over 70 are also advised to make sure they get 1,200 milligrams. 

The amount of calcium children need depends on how old they are. Newborns need 200 mg, older infants 260, children aged four to eight 1,000, and those aged nine to 18 1,300 mg. 

Athletes, vegans and vegetarians, people who are lactose intolerant, and people with conditions that interfere with calcium absorption can often strongly benefit from supplementation. Women over 50 are often advised to take supplements as well. 

Pay attention, though! It is possible to get too much of a good thing in this case. Consistently getting too much calcium can lead to a condition called hypercalcemia, which simply means “excessive calcium.” Hypercalcemia increases your risk of kidney stones and cardiac events, and it also stops your body from absorbing iron, zinc, and magnesium properly. 

If you have any questions about the right dose for you (whether through supplements or your natural diet), ask your doctor or pharmacist! 

Can Vitamin C and Calcium Be Taken Together?

Now that we’ve looked at the equally important but very distinct roles calcium and vitamin C play in keeping you healthy, you’ve got another question. Can you take vitamin C with calcium? The answer is simple. Yes! 

Not only is there no reason not to take calcium and vitamin C supplements together, but it’s actually an excellent approach to improving your health. That’s because vitamin C helps to transform calcium into a form that’s more easily accessible to your body, which ensures that as much of the calcium you consume reaches your system. This explains why so many supplements specifically combine calcium and vitamin C.  

If you’re asking yourself, “Can calcium be taken with vitamin C?” you’re clearly on a mission to take great care of your health. Combining these two nutrients (as, indeed, many foods do “in the wild”) will help you with that. Just make sure that you’re taking the right doses, and you’re good to go.

Learn more: Multivitamin vs Individual Vitamins

Is Vitamin C Calcium?

In conclusion, vitamin C and calcium are two distinct micronutrients that are both essential to great health. While they’re not the same thing, vitamin C does help your body absorb calcium more effectively. Taking vitamin C and calcium together is a great step on the road toward making sure you have everything you need to be your healthiest, most energetic self.