Vita. C is an essential vitamin for the human body. It is an antioxidant, and it helps with a range of important processes, including lowering blood pressure, fighting inflammation, and creating collagen.
In this article, we look at the recommended upper limits of vita.C intake, possible side effects of taking too much, and other warnings.
Symptoms of taking too much vitamin C
It is usually safe to frequently eat foods high in vita.C.
Frequently eating foods high in vita. C should not lead to any health issues. Taking too much vita. C through supplements can, however, cause side effects.
In adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of vita. C is 90 milligrams (mg) for males and 75 mg for females.
Adults who take more than 2,000 mg of vita. C per day may experience side effects.
When a person takes more than the recommended limit of vita.C, they may experience mild digestive disturbances. These can occur if the vita.C that the body does not absorb irritates the gastrointestinal tract.
Common mild side effects of too much vita.C include:
- stomach cramping
- general abdominal discomfort
The body does not absorb all of the vita. C that it gets from supplements.
For example, if a person takes 30–180 mg of vita.C each day, their body absorbs about 70–90% of this vita. If a person takes more than 1 gram (g) of vita. C per day, the body absorbs less than 50% of the vita., which reduces the risk of negative side effects. The excess leaves the body in the urine.
How much vitamin C is too much?
As vita. C can cause unpleasant symptoms if a person takes too much, the Food and Nutrition Board have established “tolerable upper intake levels.”
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), the upper limit for vita. C intake in people aged 19 years and over is 2,000 mg in males and females. The limit remains the same for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
The upper daily vita.C levels for children and infants are as follows:
- 400 mg for infants aged 1–3 years
- 650 mg for children aged 4–8 years
- 1,200 mg for children aged 9–13 years
- 1,800 mg for teenagers aged 14–18 years
- 1,800 mg in pregnant or breastfeeding teenagers aged 14–18 years
There are exceptions to these limits, which only apply if a person’s doctor has not specified a different intake. Some people may have to take larger amounts of vita. C for medical treatments.
Severe side effects
Less commonly, people may experience severe side effects from taking too much vita. C. Long term intake above the recommended levels increases the risk of these negative effects.
Possible health risks of taking too much vita.C include:
Kidney stones are a possible consequence of too much vita.C supplementation.
Doctors believe that too much vita. C supplementation could result in a person excreting the compounds oxalate and uric acid in their urine. These compounds could lead to kidney stone formation.
The authors of a case study in the journal Kidney International reported that a woman developed kidney stones after taking 4 g or more of vita.C each day for 4 months.
However, researchers have not conducted any larger scale studies on vita. C intake and kidney stone formation. They do know that people who have a history of kidney stones are more likely to form them if they take large amounts of vitamin C, according to the ODS.
Another concern regarding excessive vita. C intake is that it can impair the body’s ability to process other nutrients.
For example, vita. C may reduce the levels of vita.B-12 and copper in the body.
The presence of vita. C can also enhance iron absorption in the body, which could lead to excessively high levels.
Cause bone spurs
According to the Arthritis Foundation, one study found that the presence of very high vita. C levels in the body increased the likelihood of a person developing painful bone spurs.
However, the Foundation also cited a research study that found that people with low levels of vita.C had a higher risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a painful inflammatory joint condition.
These findings emphasize the need for appropriate vita.C supplementation that provides neither too much nor too little.
Impair the effectiveness of niacin-simvastatin
Evidence suggests that taking vita. C supplements may impair the body’s ability to increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol in people taking the combination drug niacin-simvastatin. This drug combines the vitamin niacin with the statin simvastatin (Zocor), and people take it to treat high cholesterol.
Doctors consider HDL cholesterol the “good” cholesterol because it reduces the amount of harmful cholesterol in the blood.
If a person takes vita.C supplements and niacin-simvastatin, they should talk to their doctor about ways to make each more effective. Doctors do not know whether vitamin C also affects the ability of other medicines similar to Zocor.
How much vitamin C should I take?
A person’s body cannot make vitamin C, so people need to eat enough foods that contain vitamin C to meet their daily needs. If someone is at risk of a vitamin C deficiency, they can take vitamin C supplements.
The ODS advise aiming for the following RDA of vitamin C each day:
|1–3 years||15 mg||15 mg|
|4–8 years||25 mg||25 mg|
|9–13 years||45 mg||45 mg|
|14–18 years||75 mg||65 mg|
|19+ years||90 mg||75 mg|
People who smoke should take 35 mg more vitamin C per day than those who do not smoke.
During pregnancy or when breastfeeding, women should get the following levels of vitamin C per day:
- 14–18 years: 80 mg during pregnancy and 115 mg when breastfeeding
- 19 years and older: 85 mg during pregnancy and 120 mg when breastfeeding
There is not enough research to suggest an RDA for vita. C in those younger than 1 year of age. As a result, the ODS provide an “adequate intake,” which is the amount that is likely to be sufficient:
- 40 mg for babies aged 0–6 months
- 50 mg for infants aged 7–12 months
Vitamin C and pregnancy
A pregnant woman may wish to take a vita. C supplement if they have trouble getting enough from their diet.
Some doctors advocate women taking vita. C supplements when pregnant.
A literature review in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews looked into the effects of vita. C supplementation during pregnancy.
The authors examined 29 studies that included 24,300 pregnant women. There was insufficient evidence for them to conclude that vita. C helped prevent problems during pregnancy, such as stillbirth, preterm birth, or preeclampsia.
However, pregnant women should try to get enough vita. C through their daily diets when pregnant. Foods high in vita. C include:
If a woman has trouble meeting her daily requirements, she should talk to her doctor about supplementation.
Vitamin C has potentially harmful side effects if a person takes too many supplements. Usually, a person will not experience side effects if they eat a lot of foods containing vita. C.
If a person suspects that their vita. C intake may be causing side effects, they should talk to their doctor.
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