Background Literacy is a public health priority. The way people access health information is changing. It’s crucial to understand this movement towards new communication tools, to better deal with it. Aims To describe the sources of health information in younger population. Methods Cross-sectional study of a sample of Portuguese university students, by survey, asking for the sources of information in health issues, and crossing it with the literacy levels. Results We surveyed 485 participants (77.5 per cent females; median age 23 years). The main source of information was the internet (78.8 per cent; 95 per cent CI:75.1–82.4 per cent), followed by health providers and by family. A linear regression model adjusted for age, gender and having education in health issues, showed that using the... internet is adversely associated with the literacy score. Conclusion The internet is preferred to search for health information, but ineffective to improve the literacy rate, making us to conclude for the need of increasing the quality of available resources.