What happens if you consume too much vitamin c?

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Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a nutrient also known as ascorbic acid.

Historically, doctors prescribed vitamin C (or vitamin C-rich foods) to treat scurvy, a medical condition caused by extremely low levels of ascorbic acid.

Today, doctors may prescribe ascorbic acid to make the urine more acidic or to treat methemoglobinemia, a condition in which the blood can’t carry enough oxygen.

Benefits of Vitamin C

Vitamin C plays an important role in the growth and repair of tissue in all parts of your body.

The nutrient has been shown to:

  • Heal wounds and form scar tissue
  • Assist in the growth of healthy skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels
  • Repair and maintain cartilage, bones, and teeth

Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, which means it can help block the damaging effects of free radicals, which the body makes as it breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation.

Free radicals have long been associated with the aging process, and they have been shown to play a role in the development of cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Vitamin C for Colds

Some studies suggest that vitamin C may be an effective remedy for the common cold.

In general, people who take vitamin C supplements may have slightly shorter periods of cold symptoms, or somewhat milder symptoms.

However, taking a vitamin C supplement after a cold starts does not appear to have as positive an effect.

Indeed, research indicates that vitamin C supplements or vitamin C-rich foods do nothing to reduce your risk of getting the common cold.

Vitamin C and Skin Care

Vitamin C is sometimes used as a skin-care product.

It may have regenerative effects on skin wrinkles, texture, strength, and evenness of tone, allegedly due to its properties as an antioxidant.

Available vitamin C products on the skin care market vary by their pH (acidity) and formulation, ranging from serums and creams to powders.

Some suntan lotions or oils also include vitamin C as an ingredient, in part due to its benefits for skin health.

Vitamin C and Miscarriage/Abortion

Various anecdotal reports have linked vitamin C use with miscarriage as well as self-induced abortion (termination of pregnancy).

These reports, however, have not been substantiated by medical research, and attempts to use vitamin C to intentionally terminate a pregnancy may be dangerous.

Vitamin C in Food

As the body can not make or store vitamin C, it’s important to have a diet of foods rich in vitamin C, such as:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
  • Watermelon
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Green/red peppers
  • Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
  • Sweet/white potatoes
  • Tomatoes/tomato juice
  • Winter squash

All fruits and vegetables contain some vitamin C, but those listed contain the most.

Cereals and other foods and beverages are often fortified with vitamin C, meaning vitamin C has been added to the ingredients.

Uncooked or raw fruits and vegetables provide the best food sources of vitamin C.

Cooking vitamin C-rich foods or storing them for a long period of time can reduce their vitamin C content. Microwaving and steaming vitamin C-rich foods may reduce some of these losses.

Vitamin C Deficiency

Vitamin C deficiency can cause symptoms such as:

  • Anemia
  • Bleeding gums/nosebleeds
  • Decreased ability to fight infection and wound-healing
  • Dry, splitting hair
  • Rough, dry, scaly skin
  • Bruising
  • Inflammation of the gums
  • Weakened tooth enamel
  • Weight gain
  • Swollen and painful joints

A severe form of vitamin C deficiency known as scurvy mainly affects older, malnourished adults.

Vitamin C Warnings

You should not take vitamin C if:

  • You are allergic to ascorbic acid or any other ingredient found in the supplement
  • You have problems your kidneys

High doses of vitamin C increase the risk of a rare condition known as hyperoxaluria.

Hyperoxaluria is a serious health problem in which too much oxalic acid is excreted in the urine, increasing your risk of kidney stones.

Pregnancy and Vitamin C

If you’re taking vitamin C in the amount recommended as a dietary supplement, then the vitamin is highly unlikely to cause birth defects, so it’s safe for a pregnant woman to take.

However, in high doses the vitamin may have harmful effects on a fetus, even though the effects of high doses in pregnant women have not been well studied.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before taking vitamin C supplements.

Vitamin C is considered safe to take while breastfeeding, but you should tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed before taking it.

Vitamin C is such a potent antioxidant, with potential health benefits as major as helping stave off cancer, you’d be forgiven for loading your drugstore cart with every vitamin C-heavy juice and supplement you can find. But when it comes to how much vitamin C (also called ascorbic acid) is really best for your body, the answer is a little more complicated than “more and more.”

To get the facts on how much you actually need, I called up two experts I knew would have the intel: Thomas Levy, MD, is so full of knowledge on the nutrient that he’s been nicknamed “the vitamin C guy.” He even wrote a book on it: Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins. Vishal Patel is the senior research and development manager at Nuun, a go-to hydration brand for athletes. He helped develop the brand’s latest Immunity blend, full of (you guessed it) vitamin C—along with several other good-for-you boosters. Here, they explain everything you need to know about vitamin C intake.

Keep reading to find out whether it’s possible to get too much vitamin C.

Photo: Stocksy/Bonnin Studio

Why you need more vitamin C after a workout

First things first: How exactly does the nutrient help keep you healthy? “Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for the body because it’s the body’s primary nutrient for fuel,” Dr. Levy says. According to him, vitamin C plays a crucial role in fighting free radicals, metabolizing protein, synthesizing collagen (which ultimate benefitting your skin and gut), and helping with iron absorption.

And because the body does not make its own vitamin C or store it, you need to consume it regularly. The National Institute of Health (NIH) requirements state that the average, healthy person needs 90 mg a day, but Patel says most of the testimonial research he’s looked at suggests a much higher amount. “The 90 mg will make sure you’re not actually deficient, but you really want to be consuming around 250 or 400 mg a day to stay healthy,” he says.

But if you’re sick or exercising a ton, you need more, between 700 to 800 mg. “If you’re training for a half marathon or working out for an extended period of time, after your work out, your immune system is actually compromised a bit,” he says. “Exercise is fantastic for the body, but it does stress it out a bit.” Pro tip: Patel says to pair your vitamin C with electrolytes for even better absorption.

Photo: Stocksy/Natalie Jeffcott

Can you overdose on vitamin C?

“You can reach too high levels of vitamin C,” Patel says, saying for adults this means 2,000 mg a day (or 1,000 mg for kids). He explains that when you have too much, two things can happen. One is that you can experience cramping and gastrointestinal issues. Not fun, but not exactly the end of the world.

The other is that it can interrupt your normal cell signaling, which is how your brain communicates with every part of your body, controlling everything from lifting a finger to going for a run. “What we’ve found is that since vitamin C is such a powerful antioxidant, when you start consuming high amounts of it, it actually disrupts that signaling from your brain to the rest of your body,” Patel says. “A lot of studies have recently shown that it can actually affect your exercise ability and endurance capacity.”

Dr. Levy, however, somewhat disagrees. “People are vastly more at risk of not getting enough vitamin C than getting too much,” he says. He makes a fair point: Consuming 2,000 mg isn’t exactly easy to do (for perspective, one orange has about 70 mg of vitamin C).

And if you do manage to down a couple gallons of OJ, Dr. Levy isn’t all that concerned. “You would just excrete it out,” he says. “The best way to tell how much you need is by experimenting with different doses and then seeing how you feel and how your blood tests .”

Here’s what else your body needs when you’re sick and after a workout.

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Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant, and helps the body form and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin. Research also indicates that it may help protect against a variety of cancers by combatting free radicals and helping neutralize the effects of nitrites (preservatives found in some packaged foods that are believed to be carcinogenic).

Vitamin C is abundant in many fresh vegetables and fruits. The best food sources include citrus fruits, red peppers (both sweet and hot) and sweet potatoes. When obtained from food and supplements in the recommended dosages, vitamin C is generally regarded as safe. High doses aren’t known to cause serious side effects but can lead to diarrhea, nausea, abdominal cramps, and other gastrointestinal symptoms as well as heartburn, headache and insomnia.

Doses greater than 2,000 mg/day may contribute to the formation of kidney stones, but evidence for this is inconclusive.

For the record, I used to recommend taking 2,000 to 6,000 mg of vitamin C daily (in three divided doses). In 1999, I lowered my recommendation to 200 mg – 500 mg (in two divided doses) after reviewing two well-designed studies showing that this amount more than saturates the body’s tissues and is sufficient to help protect against cancer, heart disease and other chronic illnesses. One of the studies concluded that 200 mg a day is the maximum amount of vitamin C that human cells can absorb, making higher dosing on a daily basis pointless.

The second study came from the Linus Pauling Institute (Pauling himself famously took 18,000 mg of C per day) and was published in the June 1999 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It identified a similar dose, 120 to 200 mg, as the optimal amount for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, cataracts and other chronic conditions.

A number of drugs can affect vitamin C levels. These include birth control pills and aspirin. And some evidence suggests that large doses of vitamin C may block the action of blood thinning drugs such as warfarin (Coumadin) and distort the results of certain blood tests. (Be sure to tell your doctor about all the supplements you’re taking).

I now recommend taking 250 mg of vitamin C daily and increasing that by an extra 1,000 mg if you have a cold or flu; work in a smog-filled city; or live with a smoker. While taking 2,000 mg a day is unlikely to hurt you – since your body will eliminate the excess – the worst effect would likely be wasting your money.

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Source:
Linus Pauling Institute, “Vitamin C.” lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-C#safety

Ascorbic acid

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com on Nov 11, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

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What is ascorbic acid?

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) occurs naturally in foods such as citrus fruit, tomatoes, potatoes, and leafy vegetables. Vitamin C is important for bones and connective tissues, muscles, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps the body absorb iron, which is needed for red blood cell production.

Ascorbic acid is used to treat and prevent vitamin C deficiency.

Ascorbic acid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use ascorbic acid if you have ever had an allergic reaction to a vitamin C supplement.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist about using ascorbic acid if you have:

  • kidney disease or a history of kidney stones;

  • hereditary iron overload disorder (hematochromatosis); or

  • if you smoke (smoking can make ascorbic acid less effective).

Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy or while you are breast-feeding a baby. Do not use ascorbic acid without your doctor’s advice in either case.

How should I take ascorbic acid?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) increases with age. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. You may also consult the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database (formerly “Recommended Daily Allowances”) listings for more information.

Drink plenty of liquids while you are taking ascorbic acid.

The chewable tablet must be chewed before you swallow it.

Ascorbic acid gum may be chewed as long as desired and then thrown away.

Do not crush, chew, or break an extended-release tablet. Swallow it whole.

Measure liquid medicine with a special dose-measuring spoon or medicine cup. If you do not have a dose-measuring device, ask your pharmacist for one.

Keep the orally disintegrating tablet in the package until you are ready to take it. Use dry hands to remove the tablet and place it in your mouth. Do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing. Swallow several times as the tablet dissolves.

Store ascorbic acid at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Do not stop using ascorbic acid suddenly after long-term use at high doses, or you could have “conditional” vitamin C deficiency. Symptoms include bleeding gums, feeling very tired, and red or blue pinpoint spots around your hair follicles. Follow your doctor’s instructions about tapering your dose. Conditional vitamin C deficiency can be difficult to correct without medical supervision.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking ascorbic acid?

Follow your doctor’s instructions about any restrictions on food, beverages, or activity.

Ascorbic acid side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using ascorbic acid and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • joint pain, weakness or tired feeling, weight loss, stomach pain;

  • chills, fever, increased urge to urinate, painful or difficult urination; or

  • severe pain in your side or lower back, blood in your urine.

Common side effects may include:

  • heartburn, upset stomach; or

  • nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Ascorbic acid dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Dietary Supplement:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 50 to 200 mg/day.

Usual Adult Dose for Urinary Acidification:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 4 to 12 g/day in 3 to 4 divided doses.

Usual Adult Dose for Scurvy:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 100 to 250 mg once or twice daily for a minimum of two weeks.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Dietary Supplement:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 35 to 100 mg/day.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Urinary Acidification:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 500 mg every 6 to 8 hours.

Usual Pediatric Dose for Scurvy:

Oral, IM, IV, subcutaneously: 100 to 300 mg/day in divided doses for a minimum of two weeks.

What other drugs will affect ascorbic acid?

Other drugs may interact with ascorbic acid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 3.02.

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Consumer resources

  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Capsules and Tablets
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  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Controlled-Release Caps & Controlled-Release Tabs
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) Injection
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Professional resources

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Related treatment guides

  • Urinary Acidification
  • Dietary Supplementation
  • Scurvy

About ascorbic acid

Type of medicine A vitamin
Used for Preventing and treating vitamin C deficiency
Also called Vitamin C
Available as Tablets, chewable tablets, soluble tablets

Ascorbic acid is also known as vitamin C. Our bodies need vitamin C to make a substance called collagen which is required for the health and repair of our skin, bones, teeth and cartilage. We get vitamin C from the food we eat, particularly fruit and vegetables. A lack of vitamin C in our diet over a period of time can lead to a condition called scurvy, although this is rare in the UK. Symptoms of scurvy include bleeding from the gums, bruising, and joint and muscle pains. It has also been suggested that a lack of vitamin C may cause poor wound healing and problems fighting infection, although this has not been proved. Vitamin C deficiency can be treated with supplements of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid tablets) and eating foods which are rich in vitamin C.

Ascorbic acid is an ingredient of a number of vitamin preparations and some cough and cold remedies that are available to buy from retail outlets.

Before taking ascorbic acid

To make sure that this is the right treatment for you, before you start taking ascorbic acid it is important that you speak with your doctor or pharmacist:

  • If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.

How to take ascorbic acid

  • Before you start taking the tablets, read the manufacturer’s printed information leaflet from inside the pack.
  • Ascorbic acid tablets are usually taken once a day. Doses of 25-75 mg are sufficient to prevent vitamin C deficiency. You can take the tablets at whatever time of day you find easiest to remember, either before or after meals. If you have been prescribed a higher dose (more than 250 mg), your doctor will recommend that you take this in divided doses. Your dose will be on the label of the pack to remind you about what the doctor said to you.
  • Do not take more than the dose which has been recommended or prescribed.
  • Some ascorbic acid tablets should be chewed before they are swallowed and others need to be dissolved in water first. Check the label on the container of your supply and follow the directions given.
  • If you forget to take a dose, don’t worry, just take the next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for a missed dose.

Getting the most from your treatment

  • Foods that are rich in vitamin C include citrus fruits (like oranges, grapefruit, limes and lemons), berries (such as blackcurrants, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and cranberries), cantaloupe melon, watermelon and kiwi fruit. Vegetables rich in vitamin C include spinach, green and red peppers, tomatoes, cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and potatoes. Try to include some of these fruits and vegetables regularly in the foods that you eat.

Can ascorbic acid cause problems?

Although ascorbic acid is unlikely to cause any side-effects at the recommended doses, large doses taken over a long period of time can be associated with unwanted effects (mainly stomach upset). If you experience any symptoms which you think may be due to the medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

How to store ascorbic acid

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

Important information about all medicines

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, contact a doctor or the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice.

This medicine is for you. Do not give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Vitamin C Side Effects

Generic Name: ascorbic acid

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Feb 16, 2019.

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Note: This document contains side effect information about ascorbic acid. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Vitamin C.

For the Consumer

Applies to ascorbic acid: oral capsule, oral capsule extended release, oral liquid, oral powder, oral powder for solution, oral powder for suspension, oral solution, oral tablet, oral tablet chewable, oral tablet extended release, oral wafer

Other dosage forms:

  • intravenous solution

Along with its needed effects, ascorbic acid (the active ingredient contained in Vitamin C) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking ascorbic acid:

Less common or rare

– with high doses

  • Side or lower back pain

Some side effects of ascorbic acid may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

Less common or rare

– with high doses

  • Diarrhea
  • dizziness or faintness (with the injection only)
  • flushing or redness of skin
  • headache
  • increase in urination (mild)
  • nausea or vomiting
  • stomach cramps

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to ascorbic acid: compounding powder, injectable solution, intravenous solution, oral capsule, oral gum, oral liquid, oral tablet, oral tablet chewable, oral tablet disintegrating, oral tablet extended release

Renal

Renal side effects have included oxalate and urate kidney stones.

Hyperoxaluria appears to be dose-related.

Nervous system

Migraine headache has been reported with a daily dose of 6 grams.

The manufacturer reports temporary dizziness and faintness may be associated with too rapid of a rate during intravenous administration.

Nervous system side effects have included dizziness, faintness, fatigue, and headache in less than 1% of patients. Migraine headache has also been reported.

Other

Conditional scurvy is reported to occur following excessive doses of ascorbic acid (the active ingredient contained in Vitamin C) over a prolonged period of time. The mechanism of action for this condition is thought to be that large doses of ascorbic acid condition the patient over time for rapid clearance of ascorbic acid resulting in scurvy. The plasma levels of ascorbic acid appear to remain within normal limits. The actual existence of conditional scurvy remains controversial.

Other side effects have included flank pain in less than 1% of patients. Conditional scurvy has also been reported.

Gastrointestinal

Gastrointestinal side effects have included nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and esophagitis.

Nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps appears to be associated with doses exceeding 2 g per day, although there have been some reports with as little as 1 g per day.

Esophagitis appears to be associated with prolonged or increased contact of ascorbic acid tablets with the esophageal mucosa.

Hematologic

The majority of hemolysis reports have been associated with patients who have concurrent glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency.

Hematologic side effects have included hemolysis.

Local

Local side effects have included transient mild soreness at the site of injection.

2. Hathcock JN “Vitamins and minerals: Efficacy and safety.” Am J Clin Nutr 66 (1997): 427-37

3. “How much vitamin C do you need?” JAMA 281 (1999): 1460

4. “Product Information. Cemill (ascorbic acid).” Abbott Pharmaceutical, Abbott Park, IL.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.

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Health effects from ingesting too much vitamin C

Dear Reader,

While vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid) plays a key role in the absorption of iron, the growth and repair of tissues in various parts of your body, and helps to fight against the common cold, it’s still possible to take in too much. While getting a little more than your recommended daily intake may not present much of a risk to your health, taking in too much could lead to a number of undesirable side effects. How much is too much, you ask? Well, that depends on how much you take in and if you have certain pre-existing medical conditions (more on that later).

Where does vitamin C come from? Since the human body can’t produce vitamin C on its own, it’s recommended you get the amount you need from the foods you eat. Luckily, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that’s found naturally in some foods and added to others. Fruits and vegetables such as oranges, green peppers, cantaloupe, strawberries, fresh tomatoes, and potatoes are some of the best sources of vitamin C.

While ingesting a little extra vitamin C is probably not going to cause any major health issues (excess is normally removed from the body when you pee), especially large doses may result in some unpleasant symptoms due to unabsorbed vitamin in the intestinal tract. Possible side effects associated with too high vitamin C intake include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Kidney stones

To avoid these possible effects, your best bet is to stick to the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of 75 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day (for men and women ages 19 and older — those who are pregnant, lactating, or who smoke have slightly higher recommendations), with an upper limit of 2,000 mg. While 2,000 mg may be the maximum threshold for most folks, those with some pre-existing health conditions might be negatively affected by consuming smaller doses of vitamin C. For those living with thalassemia, hemochromatosis, sickle cell anemia, or diabetes, seeking medical advice is recommended to determine how much vitamin C is best — because taking too much may cause serious side effects. On the other hand, there are certain groups of people who may have insufficient levels of vitamin C, including people who smoke, use nicotine patches, or folks who have limited food options. The use of certain medications may also interact with vitamin C in the body. For example, taking over-the-counter (OTC) medications, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) while taking vitamin C supplements can cause the level of the drugs in your blood to rise. Also, taking oral contraceptives (birth control pills) or hormone replacement therapy with vitamin C supplements can decrease the effects of estrogen in the body.

If you’re concerned about your vitamin C intake, it’s wise to speak with your health care provider about the amount that’s right for you. You might also speak with a registered dietitian to determine what sorts of vitamin C-rich foods you can incorporate into your diet. Remember, when it comes to vitamins, more may not always be better!

Alice!

Why Did My Vitamins Cause a Headache?

Many people take vitamins for the health benefits, but you might need to ask yourself — are you experiencing a vitamin headache? Certain vitamins and how much you take can trigger vitamin overdose symptoms, such as migraines.

If you take vitamins and supplements frequently, you probably do so with good intentions. Perhaps you take a daily multivitamin to prevent nutrient deficiencies or you take a pre-workout supplement as part of your fitness routine.

Headaches are a mild side effect, but repeated headaches and migraines resulting from taking vitamins may evolve into a serious problem. If you notice your vitamins and supplements causing headaches, it could be a sign of acute vitamin toxicity from megadosing.

Tips

Too much of anything can cause side effects. One side effect of taking too many vitamins — especially vitamins A, B, C and D — may be headaches.

Can Vitamins Cause Headaches?

Your unexplainable headaches may actually be due to taking too many vitamins. On top of supplementation, many foods are fortified with common vitamins.

Think about all the cereals, grains, breads, energy bars and pastas you may eat throughout the day that all contain added vitamins and minerals. Even if you do not take a multivitamin, you may still suffer from a vitamin headache from over-consuming fortified foods.

Some of the vitamins that have been linked to headaches as a side effect include:

  • Vitamin A
  • B vitamins
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E

Some minerals, including zinc supplements and iron supplements, are also associated with headaches as a side effect of overdosing.

Read more: The Side Effects of Hair, Skin & Nails Vitamins

Vitamins A and C Headaches

It is really easy to go way over the tolerable upper limit of vitamins A and C in particular. If you consume a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, you likely already meet these requirements from food alone.

According to the USDA, one cup of sweet potato contains 105 percent of your daily vitamin A requirements. Similarly, the USDA lists one large-sized orange as meeting 109 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements.

Supplementing these vitamins on top of vitamin-rich foods could potentially lead to some side effects. Per the National Institutes of Health, the tolerable upper limit of vitamin A for adults is 3,000 micrograms of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) or about 10,000 International Units (IU) .

Any more than this may cause a vitamin headache. Mayo Clinic stipulates that megadoses of vitamin C — more than 2,000 milligrams per day — can also cause headaches and other vitamin overdose symptoms.

Read more: Multivitamins Containing No Vitamin A or E

B Vitamins and Headaches

Many people take multivitamins containing several of the B vitamins. This is also known as a B complex supplement, which usually contains eight B vitamins in one serving. There are many health benefits of B vitamins, but too much may have side effects.

Excessive vitamin B3 (niacin) consumption commonly causes skin flushing and headaches. People with vitamin B12 (cobalamin) deficiency may be prescribed a high dosage as treatment, though this may yield headaches as a side effect.

Ironically, B vitamin deficiencies are also associated with chronic headaches. According to a June 2018 study published in Neurological Sciences, researchers found a correlation between vitamin B12 deficiency and tension headaches in children. To avoid B vitamin headaches, aim for the recommended dietary allowance of 2.6 micrograms.

Read more: How Much is Too Much Vitamin B Complex?

Vitamin Overdose Symptoms

Headaches are not just a side effect of vitamin A, B and C. Any vitamin, mineral or multivitamin consumed in excess may yield vitamin overdose symptoms. In severe cases, this is known as hypervitaminosis, and it occurs when abnormally high amounts of vitamins are stored in the body and cause toxicity. This is also known as multiple vitamin overdose.

Other symptoms include:

  • Eye irritation and sensitivity to light
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Muscle pain
  • Mood changes
  • Itching or burning skin
  • Stomach pain
  • Gastrointestinal problems

One of the most common symptoms of taking vitamins in any dose is nausea or upset stomach. This can often be attributed to taking vitamins on an empty stomach. In cases where vitamins cause nausea, Cleveland Clinic recommends taking vitamins with food, lowering your dose, getting vitamins from food sources and opting for an easy-to-digest formula.

Read more: Why Might You Feel Nauseous After Taking Vitamins?

Try These Headache Remedies

Even after adjusting the dosage of your vitamins or discontinuing use altogether, headaches may persist until the excess vitamins are flushed out of your system. To alleviate headaches, there are some remedies you can try.

Dehydration can worsen your symptoms. A small August 2012 study of 102 participants published in Family Practice found that increased water intake has a significant improvement on patients with headaches. These improvements in quality of life were self-perceived in a questionnaire. Researchers concluded that drinking more water is a noninvasive treatment that is recommended for headache relief.

Lack of sleep and frequent sleep disturbances can also increase the chances of getting a headache. On the other end of the spectrum, getting too much sleep may make you feel groggy with headache symptoms. The recommended amount of sleep in adults is between seven and nine hours per night.

Unfortunately for coffee lovers, kicking your caffeine habit may help with your headaches. Try switching to decaf coffee or herbal tea to jumpstart your mornings. You may notice more headaches at first, but over time, your body will not be as dependent on caffeine for energy.

Read more: Causes of Waking Up With a Headache

Vitamins for Migraines and Headaches

When you have a headache caused by vitamins, you may want to see a doctor and discontinue use. However, there are cases where people take vitamins for migraines and headaches.

Magnesium and coenzyme Q10 supplements are often recommended to reduce the frequency and severity of headaches as well as prevent migraines. Some herbal supplements, such as feverfew, have also been known to treat headaches.

Some people have chronic migraines while others may experience headaches as a result of nutrient deficiencies. Headaches and migraines are a reported sign of deficiencies in vitamin B12, vitamin D, magnesium and iron.

Taking vitamins for migraines and discontinuing use of vitamins to prevent headaches may put you at a standstill. To avoid headaches altogether, try to drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly. Consult with a medical professional about any vitamins you choose to take.

Many of us eat only small amounts of vitamin C-rich foods. Also, our food supply contains less and less vitamin C because of premature food harvesting, artificial ripening, and food processing. Studies of the effects of vitamin C seem to be confusing.

Generally, when small doses are used (1 gram or less), little to no significant effects were reported. When larger doses are given (20-200 grams/day), significant positive changes are typically reported.

Almost all conditions, acute or chronic, can have shortened courses and patients respond favorably. Vitamin C (in the pure, buffered, l-ascorbate) has virtually no side effects. Vitamin C has been given up to 300 grams per day, taken intravenously, without reported side effects.

This approach to determining your need for ascorbate is of the next generation and builds upon the experience gained with “bowel tolerance” determination of ascorbate need. Our livers would be making vitamin C steadily, with increases commensurate with distress, if we had not lost that key enzyme. Thus, for best health, it is important to take ascorbate regularly and steadily. Often gas, cramps, and diarrhea occur at rather low doses of ascorbate (below 10 grams). There are many possibilities for this that are addressed above in the additional supplements recommended as helpful in selected cases.

If one wishes to or must stop ascorbate for any reason, it is quite important be taper gradually. Sudden cessation of ascorbate does not allow the body time to accommodate to the change, and the body will continue to metabolize/excrete large amounts. You must reduce your ascorbate level by several grams/day over a sufficient period (depending on how much you were taking) to prevent this from occurring. Using the C Flush is important. Many helpful things happen at the ascorbate saturation level that will not happen otherwise. Doses from 50 grams to 200 grams or more a day are usual for immune dysfunction states like cancer, chronic viral and bacterial infections, and other serious inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. We recommend appropriate doses throughout life and see l-ascorbate used effectively to charge up the cellular electron pool, promoting cellular healing and metabolism, purging the body of foreign invaders, and providing a base on which to build health. Over a period of ascorbate use, the amount of ascorbate necessary to achieve bowel tolerance changes and fluctuates. During stress or illness, many times more can be taken (and is appropriate to take) than at other times. We ask each person to begin to see ascorbate as a useful tool. As healing occurs and health becomes more balanced, the amounts of ascorbate should also change accordingly. Vitamin C can be useful to you. Use it wisely and you will be well rewarded.

Learn more about the history of the C-Cleanse.

Learn more about Vitamin C Powder.

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How to Do a Vitamin C Flush: Benefits, Tips, and Supplements for an Ascorbate Detox

The human body is a miraculous creation. Made up of approximately 100 trillion regenerating cells with a superhuman computing center at the top, it can do almost anything. It pumps blood through 60,000 miles and delivers information all day through heat and pressure centers. It warns of danger, is resilient against disease and can self-heal, self-propel and even self-create new little humans all on its own.

But you know what the human body can’t do?

It can’t create vitamin C.

As humans, we are one of the rare animals that cannot make our own vitamin C. We don’t have the enzyme that converts glucose to vitamin C, which is why we must get this vital nutrient from our diet and supplements through a vitamin C flush.

What is a Vitamin C flush?

A Vitamin C flush is also known as an ascorbate flush or vitamin C cleanse. The concept is fairly simple and is based on the belief that high levels of vitamin C help rid the body of toxins.

It just involves introducing high amounts of vitamin C at regular intervals until you produce a watery stool to carry toxins away from the body.

Who should do a Vitamin C Flush?

A vitamin C flush is one of the fastest working cleanses, so it’s best for those who are looking for rapid detox. It may also be used by those who are sick and looking for a quick recovery despite not responding to other methods of treatment. Any seemingly healthy adult can benefit from a vitamin C cleanse, but it is especially important for those who may be deficient.

Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency may include:

  • muscle pain or weakness
  • fatigue
  • fever
  • bruising
  • loss of appetite
  • bleeding or swollen gums
  • sores in your mouth
  • unexplained rashes or red spots

What are the benefits of a Vitamin C flush?

Vitamin C is an important nutrient for the body. It is most well-known for boosting the immune system, which is why it’s great for beating a cold. However, it does so much more than that.

  1. ANTIOXIDANT – Vitamin C is a powerhouse antioxidant and boosts the function of other antioxidants as well, this helps to repair cells and slow the aging process of your cells to create younger-looking skin naturally.
  2. HEALING – Wounds require collagen to heal completely. Vitamin C is a major player in the creation of collagen and without it, your wounds may not heal completely leading to abnormal tissue repair. A vitamin C boost can help your body repair itself and heal properly.
  3. JOINT DAMAGE – Because of the effects that vitamin C has on collagen, some clinical trials have shown it is extremely helpful for joints. Specifically, Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, a condition of joint hypermobility. Because of its unique ability to help with collagen, Vitamin C plays a major role in maintaining the integrity of connective tissue in the joints.
  4. STRESS – Yes, Vitamin C can even help with your stress level. Cortisol is the body’s stress hormone and studies have shown Vitamin C can actually reduce this hormone in the body and combat the negative effects of stress.

A vitamin C flush gives the body a boost of vitamin C stores so that your body can use what it needs to leave you refreshed and energized.

How to do a Vitamin C Flush?

A vitamin C flush is one of the simplest cleanses you can benefit from. It doesn’t require any fancy ingredients or tricky concoctions. Anyone can do it from the comfort of their own home. We recommend doing the vitamin C flush on a day when you’ll be comfortable and near a bathroom throughout the day.

STEPS:

  • In the morning: First thing in the morning, mix 1000mg of vitamin C in a half a glass of water or fruit juice. After you drink this slowly, you can follow with whatever form of breakfast you’d like. This cleanse is not a liquid-only diet and doesn’t limit you from eating throughout the day.
  • One Hour Later: Repeat with another 1000mg of vitamin C in a half a glass of water or fruit juice.
  • Repeat: Every hour, take another 1000mg vitamin C drink. Write down a record of each time you drink, and continue until you feel the urge to use the bathroom.
  • Release: Once you pass a very watery-stool, you can stop drinking the vitamin C solution. At this point, the cleanse will take care of itself.

Always remember to stay hydrated during this process by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte beverages.

What is the most recommended product to take?

For the most effective vitamin C flush, experts recommend using a powdered vitamin C in the form of L-ascorbate. This buffered form of vitamin C also contains balancing minerals like potassium, zinc, magnesium, and calcium. This prevents the extreme irritation or inflammation of the stomach lining that can occur if you take straight vitamin C.

3 Best L-Ascorbate Supplements

  1. 3Perque Potent C Guard Powder – The Perque Potent powder is one of the most popular products for a vitamin C cleanse because it has the correct balance of electrolytes (potassium, magnesium, and calcium) to create ideal conditions. Get more information and buy now on Amazon.com.
  • Potent C Guard includes additives and transporters that enhance the body’s absorption rate and tissue action so you don’t have to worry about unwanted side effects.
  • Potent C Guard actually tastes great too and when mixed with water or juice creates a “slightly effervescent beverage.”
  • Made with an exclusive triple re-crystallization process to increase bioactivity and purity.

Many users of Potent C started with a cleanse and continued with regular use of smaller doses to maintain their health. One reviewer on Amazon said, “My own journey towards reversing auto-immune disease and malfunction has taken a radical turn for the better after using Potent C Guard and I HIGHLY recommend this product to EVERYONE. Not only does is help your body dump toxins and DRAMATICALLY reduce systemic inflammation when you’re already battling sickness/disease, but it’s my go-to “medicine” if I start to feel a little fatigue or allergy symptoms etc. instead of conventional drugs (and I feel better faster!). After two months of C Guard, I have been completely without medications (the long term effects of which were nerve-wracking) and I feel AMAZING for the first time in my life. Thank you, Perque!!”

With 140 positive reviews on Amazon and an overall rating of 4.5 stars, it’s clear that the Perque Potent is a popular choice for vitamin C cleansers. Get further details and buy now on Amazon.com.

  1. Life Extension Buffered Vitamin C Powder – The Life Extension brand is similar to Perque, containing the same minerals to help with transport and protect the stomach from the harsh acidity of the vitamin C. Get more information and buy now on Amazon.com.
  • It provides a reduced-acid solution that is non-irritating to the stomach and intestinal lining.
  • The minerals included also make it taste better.
  • Create a fizzy drink when it is mixed with water.

There are several uses for this in addition to a full Vitamin C cleanse, two reviewers on Amazon have found this powder useful for their whole family:

“This Vitamin C is recommended by my doctor because it is safe for people with gastritis and GERD. And it has been proven safe when I consume it. It does not irritate my stomach and has a dose that is high enough to increase my body’s immunity. I really love this vitamin and will buy it again. This is the second bottle I have consumed.”

“My 5-year-old was staying sick and missing so much school. My mom is a nurse and gave me a bottle of this and told me, since he was young, to give a 1/2 tsp. at least once a day but better twice a day. My son missed 2 or 3 days the whole year in 1st grade versus about 25 days in kindergarten.”

You can get more information at Amazon.com.

  1. Pure Encapsulations – Buffered Ascorbic Acid – If you don’t want to hassle with mixing the powder and drinking the vitamin C solution, you can also get the same effect in capsules. These capsules from Pure Encapsulations give the same benefits of a vitamin C solution in a slightly easier to swallow form. You can get more information and buy now on Amazon.com.
  • Great for sensitive stomachs because it delivers the same combined minerals to create a neutral pH.
  • Pure Encapsulations are meticulously formulated using only pure ingredients for predictable results
  • Free from wheat, gluten, egg, peanuts, magnesium stearate, hydrogenated fat, artificial sweeteners and colors, and other unnecessary additives.

Over 80 percent of the customer reviews give Pure Encapsulations a 5-star rating. The Pure brand has 30 years in the industry of providing supplements with only the finest ingredients, and it shows in the satisfaction of its customers.

One reviewer said, “I have finally found a vitamin c product that works for me. It’s gentle on my body; I don’t get the side pain I used to get from taking a very popular natural brand and it does not cause any stomach upset. I can take it on an empty stomach without any problems.”

Experts generally recommend a vitamin C flush be done with a powder so it can be absorbed more easily. However, if you can’t handle drinking the solution, capsules can be used as a last resort. You can read more positive reviews, get more information and buy now on Amazon.com.

Disclaimer: It is important to note these statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This product is not meant to diagnose‚ treat or cure any disease or medical condition and if you have any concerns you should consult your doctor.

Important Tips for a Vitamin C Flush

Starting the Cleanse: We recommend starting the cleanse in the morning. This isn’t necessary, but it ensures you’ll have the opportunity to complete the bowel movements during the day without having to wake up in the middle of the night.

After the Cleanse: It’s important not to quit vitamin C cold turkey. If you do, you’re at risk for rebound scurvy, which is rare, but possible. Once you have created a watery stool and you’ve stopped drinking the Vitamin C drink, it’s time to work backward. This is why we recommend writing down how much you took, and how often. This serves as a guideline for weaning off your vitamin C cleanse. Your bowel tolerance is equal to the total amount of vitamin C you took before a bowel movement. After the day of your cleanse, take 75 percent of what you consumed the previous day until you reach 1000mg total per day, which you can continue to take as long as you’d like for maintaining ideal levels of vitamin C.

Side Effects: A vitamin C cleanse is perfectly safe. You don’t have to worry about vitamin C toxicity, because it is a water-soluble nutrient, and your body will simply excrete any excess through bowel movements. However, there are some side effects to be aware of.

  • Because of bowel movements, you may experience dehydration so drink water throughout the process and feel free to add extra electrolytes.
  • Bloating, gas, heartburn and stomach discomfort are all common side effects.
  • Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease may hamper the absorption of vitamin C from the gut.
  • If you suffer from Gilbert’s disease or any form of hepatitis, avoid a vitamin C flush completely.

How often should I do a vitamin C flush?

You can do a flush as often as you feel necessary. Some people will do a vitamin C flush every month, particularly during cold and flu season – but this is usually unnecessary. A few times a year is a good schedule to maintain optimum levels of vitamin C in the body.

Will Vitamin C fix constipation?

In the short term, yes – a vitamin C cleanse will clean out your bowel. However, it’s not the best long term solution for constipation. Instead, look at your diet, your fiber intake, stress levels, and other factors that may be contributing to your constipation. If constipation is an issue, there are other supplements to consider that may be more effective in the long run than vitamin C.

  • Magnesium Citrate – Magnesium is a mineral that is critical for energy production and metabolism. It encourages muscle contraction, which often causes bowel movements regularly.
  • Psyllium Husk Powder: Husk Powder is a fine-textured organic product high in natural fiber made for mixing in your food or beverages. It is very absorbent and promotes regularity and overall digestive health.
  • Smooth Move Tea: This herbal tea promotes relieves occasional constipation with the combination of Senna, a laxative herb and peppermint for extra digestive support. Best taken at bedtime for regular mornings. This same formula is also available as a capsule if you want the benefits of herbal tea without the slightly bitter taste of Senna.

Giving your body what it can’t give you

Vitamin C is a critical nutrient for your body, but it’s up to you to make sure you’re getting enough. Sadly, our food supply contains less and less vitamin C making it hard to get the daily recommendation from diet alone. And no, drinking more orange juice is not the solution. Many of the food processing, harvesting, and artificial ripening of our produce is limiting our vitamin C.

This powerhouse vitamin can protect us from a wide range of immune diseases from the common cold to cancer, but it’s up to us to make sure we are getting what we need to give our bodies a critical boost. And one of the best ways to do this is through a vitamin C flush!

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