Most people associate vitamin C with health. But is there still such a thing as a vitamin C overdose that can be harmful? After all, our body needs the vitamin for many things, with the well-known function of the immune system being just one of them.
The fact is, even vital nutrients can be bad for us if we take too much of them.
We looked at what exactly happens to us when we ingest too much vitamin C, how an overdose can occur, and how harmful it can really be.
But before we get to that: How high is our vitamin C daily requirement?
How much vitamin C a day should you take?
Vitamin C is one of the essential nutrients. This means that it cannot be produced in the body and you therefore have to absorb it through food. How much vitamin C you should take per day is not always exact. The daily requirement of your body depends on many factors such as your gender or age.
Usually one speaks of about 95 mg in women and 110 mg in men,whereby the individual need can also differ under certain circumstances. For example, if you smoke, it could already increase your vitamin C needs by more than 40 mg per day.
What is the maximum safe dose of vitamin C?
Excess vitamin C does not pose major problems with a healthy metabolism, as the substance has a relatively low toxicity. If you take in too much of it, it is simply excreted again.
The situation is different if there is an intolerance to ascorbic acid, i.e. vitamin C. Here, the side effects of an overdose can occur earlier.
For these reasons, it is also difficult to find an exact indication of the maximum dose that is still safe.
It is usually only given with an amount beyond 1000 mg. The American National Academy of Medicine sets the Upper Intake Level, i.e. the amount of vitamin C that can be taken in a day without having to fear side effects, at 2000 mg.
Possible causes of vitamin C overdose
How can it even come to an overdose with vitamin C? 1000-2000 mg, so proud 1-2 grams of vitamin C – that’s quite a lot.
For comparison: Citrus fruits, especially oranges, are known for their vitamin C content. 100 grams of the fruit make it to about 50 mg of the nutrient. Even if the oranges are not yet in the top field of vitamin C foods, this is already quite neat.
To get to the 1000 mg of vitamin C, you would have to plaster more than 10 whole oranges a day. Even for absolute orange lovers, this will probably be difficult.
In terms of vitamin C overdose by food, the all-clear can be given.
Much more likely, the overdose happens by:
- improper intake of supplements
- a predominant metabolic disease or intolerance
As far as supplements are concerned, you should therefore definitely stick to the consumption information. If, however, you only experience symptoms of an overdose by eating foods containing vitamin C, this should definitely be clarified with your doctor. A metabolic problem could be the cause.
But what exactly are the symptomsthat you should pay attention to here?
Symptoms and treatment
As already mentioned, the toxicity of vitamin C is so low that severe poisoning is almost impossible. An acutely toxic dose, which would result in a 50% mortality rate when ingested, would be 11.9 grams per kilogram of body mass in mice. For comparison, the toxicity of fructose is almost three times higher.
So, the most likely symptoms of vitamin C overdose are rather mild in nature. These include:
- general digestive problems
The treatment is very simple: Reduce the intake of vitamin C and clarify the symptoms with the doctor of trust.
In the case of already existing metabolic diseases that affect your iron balance, too much vitamin C can also lead to an increased accumulation of iron in the blood. If you suffer from such a disorder, you should be careful with vitamin C.
Can an overdose with vitamin C also be healthy?
One reads again and again that extremely high doses of more than 2000 mg of vitamin C can also be healthy. From flu infections to cancer, such a vitamin C therapy should provide relief.
Is there anything wrong with it?
The theory is on the one hand that the body receives important nutrients and antioxidants through the vitamin boost, on the other hand the vitamin C should act like a detoxification.
Some trials show that an extremely high dose in conjunction with other therapies can have a positive effect. However, the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of such “mega-dosages” is practically non-existent.
In addition, there are the negative effects of extremely high doses of vitamin C on digestion and the heavy load on internal organs. So rather stay away from such mega-dosages, as long as they were not ordered by a doctor.
Health needs balance: Pay attention to the right dose for you
The dose makes the poison. This also applies to the vital vitamin C. The trick is to find the right individual dose for you. If there is a deficiency of vitamin C, you can usually compensate for it effectively through nutrition or dietary supplements.
In the case of supplements, following the intake recommendation on the package is essential for optimal care. Likewise, the family doctor can help you with words and deeds. This also applies to symptoms of an overdose.