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Vitamin C, a.k.a. ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin known for its antioxidant ability.
A lack of vitamin C in the diet can cause scurvy, which is rare in developed countries. However, studies have shown that a higher dose of vitamin C reduces oxidative stress, which has been linked to cancer, as well as helping in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
Some studies show there may be a reduction in the incidence of colds when vitamin C was taken before onset of symptoms, although there is little effect after symptoms start. So, don't wait until you have a cold!
The RDA for vitamin C is 40 mg, but there may be benefits of much larger doses, especially amongst smokers and those who don't regularly eat their 5 a day. If you think you get a lot of free radical exposure, e.g. from the sun or smoking, or you don't get a lot of vegetables, go for the 1000 mg. Otherwise, 500 mg should give you the boost you need. If in any doubt, seek professional medical advice.