We all know that vitamin C helps strengthen the immune system. So if you think that obtaining super high doses of vitamin C can make you highly impervious to the common cold, cough and other infections and diseases, better think again. According to experts, too much vitamin C can cause all sorts of health repercussions.
Many will argue that it’s impossible to overdose on vitamin C because it is a water-soluble vitamin — it means that too much of it will be eliminated with the help of the kidneys. While it’s true that you will simply pee out excess vitamin C in your body, megadoses of it can actually harm you.
So what is considered as a vitamin C megadose? Before we tackle that, let us first discuss how much vitamin C a healthy individual should be getting a day. Experts say that you should be getting 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C each day for optimum health. Smokers as well as pregnant and nursing moms may need to get more than that daily.
If you are having well-balanced meals, chances are there is no need for you to take vitamin C supplements. You can actually easily obtain your daily requirement of vitamin C from a healthy diet. For instance, a cup of fresh strawberries or cooked broccoli can actually provide your body with just the right amounts of vitamin C.
Usually, vitamin C supplementation is recommended for those who have a deficiency in the said nutrient. Those whose immune systems are weakened because of certain medical conditions or unhealthy habits are also usually encouraged to take vitamin C supplement, such as someone who smokes.
Experts say that the upper limit of vitamin C intake is 2,000 mg per day. They add that it is unlikely for high doses of vitamin C to harm you provided that you do not go beyond the said upper limit but it’s quite pointless because, since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, your body will simply get rid of excess via the urine.
However, it is very much possible for you to encounter a few side effects if you take high doses of vitamin C. For instance, if you have acid reflux, you may develop its various unfavorable symptoms such as heartburn and regurgitation of stomach contents since vitamin C is highly acidic. Too much vitamin C may also exacerbate stomach ulcers.
The real problem steps in when you go for megadoses of vitamin C, say the experts. When we say megadose, it means more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day. Even though vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, your body may end up being inefficient in getting rid of excess vitamin C in your system via the urine.
Here are some of the risks of taking megadoses of vitamin C, according to experts:
- GI problems. Nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, heartburn — all of these may strike if you consume more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C per day. It’s also not unlikely for you to suffer from diarrhea.
- Blood in the stool. Vitamin C is highly acidic, and too much of it can actually irritate the lining of the GI tract. It is possible for you to have blood in the stool, which a lab test can determine.
- Insomnia. You may fail to have a good night’s sleep if you opt for megadoses of vitamin C. As earlier said, it may trigger acid reflux, and the associated symptoms may leave you wide awake at night.
- Kidney stones. If you are prone to developing kidney stones, then you should steer clear of megadoses of vitamin C as it is converted into oxalate before excretion, and such can cause kidney stone formation.
- Liver damage. Experts say that too much vitamin C per day can increase your likelihood of having liver damage, particularly if you’re taking high doses of medications that are linked to liver damage risk.
- Cataract risk. Good amounts of vitamin C can lower one’s risk of cataracts, which is the clouding of the lens of the eyes. On the other hands, megadoses of vitamin C can increase your chance of having such.