Here's How Overdose Of Vitamin C Affects You

By Devika Bandyopadhya

We have always heard about the ample benefits of vitamin C. This nutrient is essential in keeping the body's cells healthy. It also helps in the growth and repair of tissues.

Vitamin C is also known to keep the skin supple. It aids absorption of iron and heals wounds. The good condition of bones, teeth, blood vessels, and cartilage is maintained due to the intake of vitamin C.

vitamin c

Our body doesn't make vitamin C and as it is an integral part, we consume it through diet or supplements. However, for those who did not know or believe, excess consumption of vitamin C could have side effects.

Read on to know some of the potential health risks associated with the overconsumption of vitamin C.

1. Gastrointestinal Issues
2. Kidney Stones
3. Overload Of Iron
4. Cardiovascular Diseases
5. Chances Of Genetic Damage
6. Interference With Blood Thinning Drugs

1. Gastrointestinal Issues

Too much vitamin C can cause cramps in the stomach, nausea, and diarrhea. This happens when the vitamin does not get absorbed properly by the gastrointestinal system. This usually happens due to the overdose of supplements. The issues resolve when the dosage is reduced or temporarily stopped.

2. Kidney Stones

Compounds called oxalate are produced when vitamin C is metabolized. This oxalate is excreted in the urine. However, oxalate in high amount can combine with calcium in the bloodstream causing kidney stones.

It is advised that people who have past history of renal problems such as kidney stones should stay away from high doses of vitamin C supplementation. Studies have shown that people who took more than 1000 mg of vitamin C daily possessed a higher risk of kidney stones than those who took only 90 mg per day.

3. Overload Of Iron

Absorption of iron is facilitated by vitamin C. This prevents the occurrence of anemia which is caused due to a deficiency of iron in the blood. Vitamin C promotes absorption of non-heme iron which is obtained from plant-based foods and is also found in meat.

People who already have high iron stores could face iron toxicity when high intake of vitamin C enhances iron absorption. People who suffer from a hereditary illness known as hemochromatosis could face tissue damage when vitamin C consumption in large doses extends over a long duration.

4. Cardiovascular Diseases

Vitamin C shows antioxidant properties. This is what prevents and protects the body from several illnesses. Studies have shown that high amounts of vitamin C supplements could be the cause behind cardiovascular diseases. The chances of this are higher in people who already have certain underlying health conditions.

Research showed that consumption of about 300 mg of vitamin C supplements by postmenopausal women who also had diabetes would increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. However, this data is known based on only few studies and not established firmly.

5. Chances Of Genetic Damage

Few studies have shown the pro-oxidant tendency of vitamin C, especially when the dosage is high. In a study that involved healthy subjects, vitamin C was administered daily for about 6 weeks. At a dosage of 500 mg per day, oxidative damage was identified. Based on this, researchers have concluded that vitamin C can damage and alter DNA that can eventually lead to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.

However, this effect was not observed when subjects were given dosage of below 500 mg. Also, this effect could be when vitamin C was taken through supplements and not through natural food. Extensive confirmation of this reporting by researchers is still pending as other studies have disputed these claims.

6. Interference With Blood Thinning Drugs

Vitamin C has been found to adversely react with certain drugs. It has been observed that vitamin C in high doses can cause the blockage of blood thinner functionality or that of the anticoagulants, which would eventually need an increased dosage of the drug in order to show effect.

However, this result has not found conclusive data yet. Nevertheless, experts still have the opinion that people who have been put on blood thinners should not take more than 1 gram of vitamin C each day. Also, intake of vitamin C in such cases would require regular monitoring of the blood clotting mechanism in the person's body. 

Vitamin C has been found to interfere with certain blood test results as well. Especially with the test results for serum bilirubin and serum creatinine, vitamin C presence in high amounts has shown interference, which might lead to inaccurate lab results.

Presence of vitamin C in high amounts can also distort the results of blood sugar tests. In case your physician has advised certain pathological tests, do inform the doctor if you are consuming vitamin C supplements.

Stick To The Recommended Intake Of Vitamin C To Stay Safe

The recommended dosage of vitamin C for males is 90 mg per day and that for females is 75 mg per day. A pregnant woman would need about 85 mg of vitamin C daily. For nursing mothers, the requirement of vitamin C daily is 120 mg.

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    Read more about: vitamin c health diseases
    Story first published: Sunday, July 1, 2018, 10:00 [IST]
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