Vitamin C Overdose

image001Vitamin C is one of the most well known vitamins and is scientifically called ascorbic acid, which plays pivotal roles such as strengthening collagen and soft tissues, boosting immune function and helps mitigate free radical damage to our bodies. Sources of vitamin C contain citrus fruits and juices and vegetable. Like all vitamins, excess intake of vitamin C can result in adverse reactions and health problems due to toxicity. The tolerable upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 mg according to the Merck Manual and several other sources.

Symptoms of Vitamin C Overdose

Minor Symptoms

Symptoms will start to appear as daily intake exceeds 2,000 mg.

  • Abdominal cramps and diarrhea
  • Upset stomach, bloating and indigestion
  • Nausea, vomiting and excessive flatulence
  • Headaches
  • Mouth ulcers and sores
  • Rashes and redness of the face
  • Foot cramps and muscle pain
  • Increased stress
  • Hemolytic anemia – those with a genetic deficiency of an enzyme (G6PD) will rapidly break down red blood cells leading to anemia, fatigue and weakness.
  • Kidney stones – large doses of vitamin C over time lead to accumulation of calcium oxylate. This is the most common type of kidney stone.

Serious Symptoms

This cluster of symptoms generally appears when an individual ingests over 6,000 mg per day, including

  • Anemia from B12 deficiency
  • Severe back pain
  • Dental cavities and tooth decay
  • Poor sleep and insomnia
  • Excess iron absorption and possibly iron toxicity (hemochromatosis). This can result in damage to the liver and heart. Treatment requires phlebotomy to remove a pint of blood periodically until iron levels decrease.
  • Yellowing of the skin (jaundice)
  • Copper deficiency
  • Cardiovascular strain due to increased oxygen requirements

Remedies for Vitamin C Overdose

  • Treatment of overdose includes first stopping any vitamin C supplements.
  • Excess vitamin C is excreted in the urine so proper hydration is key. Be sure to drink plenty of water to flush your system and also replace any excess fluid losses caused by the diarrhea that often accompanies vitamin C toxicity.
  • Pay attention when taking multiple supplements and vitamins; be sure to read labels so that you know what you are actually taking in each day.
  • Avoid injections of vitamin C and consult with your doctor if a recommended treatment seems unclear.
  • A well balanced diet with fruits and veggies along with a daily multivitamin provides enough vitamin C to meet the body’s daily requirements.

Recommended Dosage of Vitamin C

Vitamin C recommendations vary based on sex and age. Males generally require more than females, but pregnancy increases the need for vitamin C intake. General guidelines for daily vitamin C intake are:

  • Children 45-64 mg per day
  • Women 75 mg per day
  • Pregnant women 95 mg per day
  • Men 95 mg per day

Some studies report the upper recommended limit for men and pregnant or breast-feeding women is 130 mg per day.

Maximum Tolerable Level of Vitamin C for Age

Age

Maximum Tolerable Level (mg)

1-3

400

4-8

650

9-13

1200

14-18

1800

19 and Over

2000


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