Can You Have Too Much Vitamin C?

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Vitamin C is one of the most touted and advertised vitamins in the nutritional industry. But while vitamin C is undoubtedly important for your daily health, some folks take this message too far and can accidentally consume too much each day.

Didn’t know that it was possible to have too much vitamin C? Read on to learn more about excess vitamin C intake and what side effects could occur as a result.

How Much Vitamin C Do You Need?

To understand what it means to consume too much vitamin C, you first need to know what a good intake level is.

The DRA or daily recommended amount of vitamin C is between 65 and 90 mg per day. However, the FDA does indicate that the upper limit of vitamin C consumption is 2000 mg per day. That’s a huge difference between what you need to survive and what you can consume without experiencing any side effects.

Why is there such a big difference? In a nutshell, your body can safely absorb a lot of extra vitamin C or use it to build components and tissues. Furthermore, vitamin C can be used to bolster your immune system.

Keep in mind, though, that your body can’t store vitamin C long-term since it’s water-soluble. As vitamin C dissolves in water, any extra vitamin C that isn’t used within a couple of days eventually gets passed from your body, meaning you need to replenish vitamin C regularly over time.

Put simply, this means that consuming a vitamin C supplement by itself is unlikely to accidentally cause any side effects associated with consuming too much vitamin C. However, consuming a vitamin C supplement, and eating lots of vitamin C rich foods over a 24 hour can result in some issues if you aren’t careful.

Furthermore, what counts as “too much” vitamin C depends on your age.

  • For infants aged between one and three, 400 mg or less is ideal
  • 650 mg or less for kids aged between 4 and 8
  • Meanwhile, 1200 mg or less for kids under the age of 13
  • 1800 mg or less teenagers below the age of 18
  • Adults can handle higher amounts than that. You have reached a daily limit when stools become loose and that dose should not be taken on a daily basis. 

Remember, 2000-4000 mg is a typical upper limit for everybody. There are a few rare exceptions to these limits – only consume more vitamin C than this if you have been told to do so by a doctor.

What Happens When You Have Too Much Vitamin C?

There are a number of side effects that you might experience if you consume too much vitamin C. Most people don’t do this by accident, but they may accidentally absorb too much of the vitamin through a combination of dietary choices and by consuming too many vitamin C supplements in rapid succession.

Kidney Stones

There’s some evidence to suggest that too much vitamin C could accidentally lead you to excrete uric acid and oxalate in your urine. This, in turn, could lead to your kidneys producing kidney stones: small, hard buildups of hard materials and waste matter that can clog your urethra and lead to severe pain.

This being said, there’s no direct link between taking a little more than 2000 mg of vitamin C per day and developing kidney stones. This side effect is likely only to develop if you take an exorbitant amount of vitamin C, like in a case where a woman developed kidney stones after eating 4 g or more of vitamin C every day over a four-month timeframe

Bone Spurs

You may accidentally develop bone spurs if you consume too much vitamin C according to the Arthritis Foundation. During one of the studies submitted to the Foundation, it was discovered that people with very high vitamin C levels in their bodies had a higher likelihood of developing painful bone spurs. In most cases, direct surgical intervention is required to get rid of bone spurs.

While it’s important to take vitamin C in order to support things like immune function and skin health, you should not take too much vitamin C in pursuit of these goals due to side effects like these.

Nutrient Imbalances

If you consume  too much vitamin C, you might cause general nutritional imbalances throughout your body. In a vacuum, your body will produce the right amount of vitamins and minerals for proper function and cellular division and repair.

But if you consume too much vitamin C, your body might reduce its levels of copper and vitamin B12 in order to compensate. This could lead to ancillary side effects and reduce your body’s ability to produce other key vitamins and minerals.

Furthermore, too much vitamin C could cause your body to absorb more iron than is normal. If you have too much iron, you can develop other side effects and blood conditions, plus affect your heart’s health. 

All in all, ideally do not use amounts higher than 4g per day for prolonged use  so you don’t throw your body’s nutritional balance out of whack.

Other Side Effects

Alongside these potentially serious side effects, gastrointestinal side effects like diarrhea, nausea, stomach cramping, and bloating are common with overconsumption of vitamin C. 

All in all, high dose vitamin C will help boost the immune system in times of need but a normal range dose is then recommended for daily use.  While vitamin C is a crucial vitamin for holistic health, it’s something you should only consume in moderation (which is true for everything we put into our bodies!). 

How Do People End Up Taking Too Much Vitamin C?

People can take too much vitamin C for a number of reasons depending on their circumstances and their knowledge of bodily health.

Taking Supplements to Fight a Cold

Lots of people, for instance, take vitamin C supplements in order to prevent themselves from coming down with a common cold. While vitamin C can support your immune system’s effectiveness, it’s by no means a surefire method of preventing colds or illness. 

Be sure to take a well rounded approach of vitamin d, zinc, clean eating, and rest to help your body recover. No one supplement is a magic cure. A whole body approach is key. 

Eating Too Many Citrus Fruits

Speaking of foods and beverages, some people consume lots of citrus fruits either out of habit or because of the aforementioned desire to avoid or fight off a common cold. While citrus fruits certainly taste great, eating too much of them is never a good thing.

For one thing, it’s almost impossible to eat so many citrus fruits that you overdose on vitamin C. Just be aware if taking a high dose vitamin c supplement you will not need to overdue the citrus fruit. 

Honestly, it’s a lot easier to just take a vitamin with plenty of antioxidants and vitamins found in fruits instead of trying to eat berries and citrus fruits all day (though obtaining nutrients through whole foods is usually a good thing). Check out Livingood Daily’s Greens Berry Supplement as a perfect example.

Having A Generally Unbalanced Diet

Some people unfortunately can consume too much vitamin C because their diets and supplement programs are just unbalanced. They might take daily supplements like Livingood Daily’s Multi-Vitamin and a vitamin C supplement at breakfast. Then they might also eat several citrus fruits throughout the day.

Vitamin C is going to be more balanced and more effectively used when paired with a solid nutritional approach. It’s a much better bet to go with a proven dieting and exercise guideline like the one championed in Livingood’s Daily Book

Since the book is totally free, you should definitely check it out if you want some help living healthily through a combination of easy exercises and smart eating choices.

Summary

At the end of the day, most people won’t accidentally overdose on vitamin C. But it’s still important to be aware of the potential consequences and side effects. This way, you’ll never end up experiencing any of these uncomfortable conditions or symptoms just because you’re trying to avoid catching a cold this season.

Sources

https://www.kidneyinternational-online.org/article/S0085-2538(15)51777-8/fulltext

https://www.arthritis.org/living-with-arthritis/treatments/natural/vitamins-minerals/vitamin-c-amount.php

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23440782/

https://www.fda.gov/food/new-nutrition-facts-label/daily-value-new-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels

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