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Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin, which is needed by the body to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Dietary sources of vitamin C include fruits and vegetables, particularly citrus fruits such as oranges.

Severe deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy. Although rare, scurvy results in severe symptoms and can cause death. People with scurvy are treated with vitamin C and should be under medical supervision.

Many uses for vitamin C have been proposed, but evidence of benefit in scientific studies is lacking. In particular, research on asthma, cancer, and diabetes remains inconclusive, and a lack of benefit has been found for the prevention of cataracts or heart disease.

The use of vitamin C in the prevention or treatment of colds remains controversial. Extensive research has been conducted. Overall, vitamin C lacked an effect on the development of colds and on cold symptoms. However, the duration of the cold shortened slightly. Notably, people living in extreme circumstances, including soldiers in the subarctic, skiers, and marathon runners, had a 50% decrease in the risk of developing a cold. This area merits additional research and may be of particular interest to athletes or people in the military.