Can You Overdose On Vitamin C?

Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also referred to as Ascorbic Acid is a very essential nutrient in our bodies. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin and is responsible for maintaining a normal growth and a healthy immune system. Also, vitamin C plays a major role in the absorption of iron, healing of wounds, maintaining strong bones, and enhancing the brain function. In this article, we will discuss the safety of vitamin C, can you overdose on vitamin C, how much vitamin C is too much, the various reasons why you should not take large doses of vitamin C, and much more.

Vitamin C is mainly found in fruits and vegetables. Even though there are plenty of vitamin supplements, fruits and vegetables are mostly preferred by many as they are natural and also very healthy. The best and most famous sources of vitamin C include

  • Oranges
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwi
  • Grapefruit
  • Bell peppers
  • Cantaloupe
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes
  • Strawberries

One important thought that you should keep in mind is that just because vitamin C is very healthy to our bodies, too much of it can have undesirable results and it should be avoided. Also, not having adequate vitamin C in our bodies can cause a potentially deadly condition known as Scurvy.

Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?

Yes, it’s very possible to overdose on vitamin C. Usually, most of us assume that because vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, it’s safe to consume in large amounts as compared to other fat-soluble vitamins such as A and E. Just because vitamin C is safe to take in large amounts does not mean that you can have too much of it. If you take more vitamin C than what your body is able to excrete, there will be repercussions. You should talk to your doctor, to determine how much vitamin C your body needs.

How Much Vitamin C Does It take to Overdose

Usually, the risks of overdosing of vitamin C are higher especially if one is taking vitamin C supplements. Below is a guideline of the recommended upper limits dosage of vitamin C for adults and children should consume per day with respect to age.

  • 0-12 months- The amount is unknown. You should consult with the doctor for more details
  • Age Between 1 to 3 years- 400 milligrams
  • Between 4 to 8 years- 650milligrams
  • Between 9 to 13 years- 1,200 milligrams
  • Between 14-18 years- 1,800 milligrams
  • Adults- 2,000 milligrams

Actually, it’s nearly impossible to have too much vitamin C from your diet. For instance, it would require you to eat about 29 oranges or 13 peppers to reach the tolerable upper limit. It’s almost impossible and very difficult to consume that much within a short time. In most cases, an extra intake of vitamin C than the recommended usually gets flushed out in the body.

In case you are using vitamin C supplements, you can lower the chances of overdosing by consuming no more than 90mg for males, and about 75mg for females. That is, it should have less than 100% of your vitamin C daily needs.

Reasons To Take Too Much Vitamin C

Taking more than the recommended amount is not advisable as it can lead to severe side effects. For instance, in pregnant women, vitamin C overdose can cause miscarriage.
For adults, the daily recommended amount is 65 to 90 mg and an upper limit of 2,000 milligrams per day.

Reasons Not To Take Too Much Vitamin C

Although too much vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, possible side effects of vitamin C include

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Insomnia
  • Diuretic effect
  • Gas and bloating

Other Serious Health Complications that are Possible Include,

  • Miscarriage: There is a concept that suggests that higher doses of vitamin C can lead to miscarriage. Women are believed to use large doses of vitamin C as a home remedy for abortion. Also, health practitioners claim that vitamin C encourages menstruation which can result in a miscarriage.
  • Kidney Stones: When we consume vitamin C in the body, it’s broken down into oxalate. Commonly oxalate is secreted in the urine, however, higher urinary oxalate levels may lead to the formation of deposits called Kidney Stones. Therefore, it’s clear that large doses of vitamin C are associated with oxalate kidney stones. Studies claim that high vitamin C contributes to 80% of all kidney stones.
  • Gastrointestinal Problems: In case you consume more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C, there are higher chances of developing severe diarrhea and gastrointestinal irritation. This because large doses of vitamin C involve the digestive tract. Also, extended episodes of vomiting and diarrhea can cause dehydration, fatigue, reduced blood pressure, low urine output, and mineral imbalances in the body.
  • Hemochromatosis: This is a condition that is triggered by an excess build-up of iron in the body. Although vitamin C does not directly cause hemochromatosis, it usually worsens the condition. Hemochromatosis is an inherited condition that mostly affects the heart, liver, and the pancreases.

Most of these complications come with the possibilities of poor interactions of vitamin C and other prescribed medications. Therefore, it’s important that you consult with your doctor prior to consuming any vitamin C tablets in case you are on any medication. However, even if you can overdose on vitamin C, it’s highly unlikely that vitamin C overdose can cause death.

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Kaushal M. Bhavsar (MBBS, MD)Assistant Professor in Pulmonary Medicine, GMERS Medical College, Ahmedabad