How much vitamin C is too much?

How much vitamin C is too much?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is imperative to many bodily functions such as immunity and metabolism. Due to the fact that vitamin C is not produced naturally by the body, we have to rely on external dietary sources to get it. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, but it is possible to have too much of it. So how much is too much?

For adults, the recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 65 to 90 milligrams per day. The tolerable upper limit, or the highest amount that can be consumed per day without the likelihood of causing undesired effects, is 2000 milligrams per day (Harvard Health, 2020). Doses above the tolerable upper limit, around 2000 to 3000 milligrams per day, are known to cause symptoms such as diarrhea, nausea, heartburn, inflammation of the stomach, fatigue, headache, insomnia, and flushing. A limit of 1000 milligrams per day is recommended for individuals with a history of chronic liver or kidney conditions, gout, or kidney stones (Harvard Health, 2020).

Many individuals take an unnecessarily excessive amount of vitamin C in order to prevent different conditions, but its effectiveness is often overestimated. For example, it is widely believed that vitamin C in high doses is extremely effective in preventing and treating the common cold. An overwhelming amount of evidence, though, shows that high-dose vitamin C will shorten a cold by one day at most (Harvard Health, 2020). So, when you feel your next cold coming on, don’t feel the need overload your body with vitamin C! 

Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning that any excess is usually excreted through urine rather than stored in the body. When gained through food, vitamin C is considered safe in almost any amount. Supplements containing vitamin C usually contain close to the recommended daily amount and are considered safe for most individuals (Harvard Health, 2020). Try to stick to the recommended daily values and your body will thank you!

This article reviewed by Dr. Jim Liu, MD and Ms. Deb Dooley, APRN.

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