How much vitamin C is too much and can you take a vitamin C overdose? Let’s find out.
Vitamin C is generally safe to take, even in high doses. Minor adverse effects, such as stomach discomfort, may occur in some persons. More serious side effects are infrequent.
Vitamin C is a vitamin that the human body need. It is an antioxidant that helps with a range of important activities such as lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, and creating collagen.
This page will discuss the suggested maximum limits of vitamin C intake, as well as the potential negative effects of vitamin C overdose and other precautions.
Signs and symptoms of vitamin C overdose
Regularly consuming vitamin C-rich foods should not create any health risks. Taking too much vitamin C as supplements, on the other hand, might be harmful.
In adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 90 milligrams (mg) for men and 75 mg for women.
Adults who ingest more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day may have side effects.
When a person eats more vitamin C than is recommended, this is known as vitamin C overdose. They may experience mild stomach difficulties. These can occur if the vitamin C that the body isn’t absorbed, irritating the digestive tract.
These are some of the most common minor side effects of vitamin C overdose (or taking too much vitamin C):
- stomach cramps, bloating, and overall abdominal pain
Vitamin C might not be completely absorbed by the body.
For example, if a person takes 180mg of vitamin C per day, their body absorbs around 70–90% of this vitamin.
When a person takes more than 1 gram (g) of vitamin C per day, the body absorbs less than half of the vitamin, reducing the possibility of adverse side effects. The excess is eliminated through the urine.
Because too much vitamin C can create undesirable side effects, the Food and Nutrition Board established “tolerable upper intake recommendations.” These are put in place specifically to avoid vitamin C overdose.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the upper limit for vitamin C consumption in people aged 19 years and above is 2,000mg daily for both men and women. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are not exempt from the limitation.
The maximum daily vitamin C intake for children and newborns are as follows:
- 400 mg for one to three-year-old infants
- 650 mg for children aged 4–8 years
- Children between the ages of 9 and 13: 1,200 mg
- For teenagers aged 14 to 18, 1,800 mg is advised.
- 1,800 mg in pregnant or breastfeeding 14–18-year-olds
Certain exceptions to these restrictions exist, but only if a person’s doctor has not prescribed a different intake. For medical reasons, certain people may require larger dosages of vitamin C but this doesn’t mean they’re taking a vitamin C overdose.
Serious side effects of vitamin C overdose
People who ingest an excessive amount of vitamin C may suffer disastrous consequences. Long-term excess usage increases the chance of these negative effects.
Some of the potential health risks of vitamin C overdose are as follows:
According to doctors, eating too much vitamin C might cause a person’s urine to include the compounds oxalate and uric acid. These substances have the potential to trigger the formation of kidney stones.
According to the authors of a case study published in the Kidney International, a woman developed kidney stones after taking 4g or more of vitamin C every day for four months.
However, no large-scale studies on vitamin C intake and kidney stone formation have been conducted. According to the ODS, those who have a history of kidney stones are more likely to develop them if their intake reaches vitamin C overdose levels.
Another disadvantage of too much vitamin C is that it may impair the body’s ability to use other vitamins and minerals.
Vitamin C, for example, has been shown to reduce vitamin B12 and copper levels in the body.
Vitamin C can also boost iron absorption in the body, resulting in unusually high levels.
One study found that having very high vitamin C levels in the body increased the risk of developing painful bone spurs, according to the Arthritis Foundation.
The Foundation, on the other hand, cited a study that found that people with low vitamin C levels were more likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis, a severe inflammatory joint disease.
These findings emphasise the importance of getting enough vitamin C and recommend against a vitamin C overdose.
Reduces the effectiveness of niacin-simvastatin
There is evidence that taking vitamin C supplements may impair the body’s ability to boost high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in those on the niacin-simvastatin combination medicine. To treat high cholesterol, this drug combines the vitamin niacin with the statin simvastatin (Zocor).
Because it decreases the level of harmful cholesterol in the blood, doctors refer to HDL cholesterol as “good” cholesterol.
If a person takes vitamin C supplements in addition to niacin-simvastatin, they should speak with their doctor about ways to increase the efficacy of both and reduce the risk of vitamin C overdose.
How much vitamin C should I take?
Humans must consume enough vitamin C-containing foods to meet their daily requirements because the body cannot generate it. If you are at risk of vitamin C deficiency, you can take vitamin C supplements.
You should aim for the following RDA of vitamin C per day, according to the ODSTrusted Source:
- Female / Male – 1-3 years 15mg
- Female / Male – 4-8 years 25 mg.
- Female / Male – 9-13 years 45 mg
- Male – 14 – 18 years 75 mg
- Female 14 – 18 years 65 mg
- Male – 19+years – 90 mg
- Female 19+years – 75 mg
People who smoke should take 35 mg extra vitamin C per day than nonsmokers.
Women should consume the following amounts of vitamin C per day when pregnant or breastfeeding:
- 14–18 years: 80mg during pregnancy and 115 mg when lactating
- 19 years and up: 85mg during pregnancy and 120mg when lactating
There isn’t enough information to recommend daily intake for vitamin C in children under the age of one year. As a consequence, the ODS give an “appropriate intake,” or the quantity that is likely to be acceptable:
- Newborns aged 0–6 months, the recommended dose is 40 mg.
- 50 mg for 7–12-month-old babies
Pregnancy and vitamin C
Pregnant women are advised by some doctors to take vitamin C supplements.
The effects of vitamin C supplementation during pregnancy were studied in a review of the literature published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.
The researchers examined 29 studies including 24,300 pregnant women. There was inadequate evidence to suggest that vitamin C aids in the prevention of pregnancy problems such as stillbirth, early delivery or pre-eclampsia.
Pregnant women, on the other hand, should attempt to get enough vitamin C via their diet while pregnant. Foods high in vitamin C include:
If a woman is having trouble meeting her daily needs, she should talk to her doctor about supplementing.
In conclusion, vitamin C overdose from vitamin C supplements may result in harmful side effects. A person should not experience any negative side effects if they consume a lot of vitamin C-rich foods.
If you think you’re taking too much vitamin C, speak to your GP or a qualified medical professional.