Vitamin C - the ubiquitous vitamin we have all learned to love since a tender age. But did you know that too much of this good thing can turn bad for your health? Yes, that's right! A high intake of vitamin C can lead to unpleasant side effects and long-term consequences. In today's article, we'll bring into focus what happens when you take too much Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)!
An Overview of Vitamin C
Before diving headfirst into the world of potential overdoses, let us first understand what exactly is going on in our bodies with respect to Vitamin C.
The Good Stuff
VitaminC is an essential nutrient required by our body tissues. It aids in biosynthesis of certain neurotransmitters like serotonin which helps regulate sleep patterns and mood swings.Hence it plays a critical role in maintaining mental balance as well ensuring healthy skin, teeth,bones,and cartilage.
However ,our body cannot synthesize it naturally so its dietary sources become primary mode for receiving adequate daily requirement thereby reducing risk from scurvy a disease caused by deficiency .
Here are some foods rich in vit-C:
- Citrus fruits- oranges/guava/grapefruit
- Leafy green vegetables /broccoli/cauliflower/brussels sprouts/cabbage/tomatoes/peppers/spinach
- tomatoes/potato/sweet potato/yam
How Much Do You Really Need?
Vitamin c absorption happens mainly via small intestine particularly jejunum where transporter channels absorb up-to human physiologic capacity about 1000mg/day however excess get peed away(Sket al.,2018).WHO recommends daily consumption upto 90 mg (1adult orange) that meets minimum requirements (Zhang etal.,2021). For most individuals Who are generally healthy ,consuming higher doses to supplement immune system is not necessary and at risk of toxicity (NIH,2020).
The Bad Stuff
Though it may seem that the more Vitamin C you consume, the better your health will be. Unfortunately too much intake also can lead to some adverse outcomes.
Overdosing on Vitamin C: What Happens if You Take Too Much?
We mentioned earlier that consuming vitamin c beyond recommended limits could cause toxicity. But what does this mean? What are the consequences? Let's look at some of them below:
Do you know how drinking too much apple juice can lead to abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and nausea ?That’s because it contains high levels of fructose which our body cannot digest easily .Similarly a spike in vit-C -intake especially with an empty stomach or sensitive gut can lead to similar experiences including vomiting,dizziness,Avoiding concentrated forms like syrups,bars,pills without professional guidance can prevent such unpleasantness.
Ascorbic acid is broken down into oxalate molecules in liver by enzyme oxidation.Their buildup overtime along with calcium inside kidneys form solid crystals/kidney stones.These block urine paths causing severe back pains(urine scented), blood/mucous in urine.All adults need 15mg/day dietary iron.If iron supplements exceeds requirement leads increased oxidants/bodies retention contributing stone formation.No good!
Are you struggling from anaemia? Then let me stop you right here! Consuming excess vitaminC specially alongside deplete haemoglobin/increased bleeding during menstruation/uterus fibroids/gastrointestinal bleeding causes excessive absorption(redistribution)of any available cast +non-cast soluble salts binding up all naturally consumable irons subsequently leading its inadequacy (Gupta et al., 2017).
Increased Risk of Cancer
Yes! Excess exercise may reduce longer term risk from cancer,but excess supplements or non-prescriptive intake show no evidence based similar benefits (NIH,2020).The human body generally has mechanisms to protect against oxidative damage and inflammation, but taking excessive amounts of vitamin C ramps up the formation of pro-oxidant compounds that promote cellular damage(superior radicals/active oxygen species) eventually leading uncontrolled cell multiplication(a.k.a. malignancy)
Did you know 20%of our daily dietary fibres/deposited cells contribute good bacteria balance ?These microbiota produce such fermented acids ie -butyrate/lactate as nourishment for colon cells protecting lining by reducing co-carcinogenesis.This beneficial process affected by high Vit-C intakes doesn't spare nor recognizes different segments rather producing toxic metabolites instead triggering inflammations/cancer-cell progression (Johannssen et al.,20)
Can You Really Overdose on Vitamin C?
While it is true that consuming too much Vitamin C can lead to toxicity, a lot depends on your actual intake and other factors.
According to Environmental Working Group's database analysis i.e “what’s in food?"(EWG),consuming upto ~4 cans concentrated formula fruit today provides almost1000mg vit.c.(1 gm pure acid per scoop powder/purpose tablets)THAT'S close enough maximum amount suggested adults don’t experience dangerous side effects(maybe indigestion),depending upon their tolerance limit.Generally over four scoop makes overdose likely(Frumkin et al.,2022).
So yes,the odds are stacked against one suffering any severe consequences unless taken deliberately or supplemented with other drugs,cigarette/alcohol/smoke inhalation which deplete anti -oxidants/vitamins in system already exasperated presence pre-existing health conditions(flu,malaria,tuberculosis)
What Should You Do to Avoid Overdosing on Vitamin C?
So, you're convinced that too much of a good thing can be BAD! Now what? How can you avoid overdosing on Vitamin C? Here are some simple tips for ensuring optimal consumption.
Stick with Dietary Sources
The most natural and safest way of receiving adequate vitamin-c is via dietary sources. Stick to consuming citrus fruits, mangoes, pineapples, broccoli, bell peppers,tomatoes,fresh juicy salads,soups,stir fries(which gives highest absorption in the body).
Take Recommended Doses Only
As explained earlier a maximum daily intake close to1000mg(from concentrate/water soluble)should suffice an average adult's requirement consulting doctor as necessary.Children/pregnant mothers/senior citizens(60+) may need slightly lesser.Most over-the-counter supplements exceed formula levels so it’s best advised healthcare provider guidance before starting any regimen as they also might interact negatively other existing medication habits like beta blockers for blood pressure (Bethesda,Maryland),OC pills,hormonal injections or those suffering from kidney insufficiency.
Be Mindful of Other Medications
If you are already taking medications like iron supplements or antibiotics then check their potential interactions with vit-C(ascorbic acid).Some ache relievers/aspirins contain relatively higher dosages interfering thus causing rebound indigestion/bloating/malaise.Additionally since we do not have excess storage capacity regarding water soluble vitamins supplementing alongside enriched foods add no value if unutilized rather leading toxicity/inadequate digestion increased risk at their brink(brustad et al., 2022).
VitaminC is an essential nutrient required by our body tissues. However,toxicity due over-consumption comes in many forms,to adverse side effects which take short/long term tolls.Judging the amounts present natural food preservatives,making vegetables smoothies/soups,exercising moderate immunity with medical guidance can all contribute to a balance towards better physical well-being (NO SLANG).
Now you know the risks involved when taking too much Vitamin C, so be mindful of your intake and practice healthy habits.
Stay safe & enjoy your daily fruit salad servings!