Can You Overdose on Vitamin C?

Vitamin C is an important antioxidant for your body. It serves many functions from helping keep your immune system healthy to improving and encouraging healthy collagen production. However, is it possible to have too much of a good thing? Find out exactly why you need vitamin C and how much you should aim for daily.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known a ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin that is important to your overall health because it supports healthy growth and development. The National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements states that in your body “…vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. These free radicals are compounds which get formed when the body converts food into energy. Additionally, vitamin C is vital to your body because your “…body also needs vitamin C to make collagen, a protein required to help wounds heal.” Moreover, vitamin C is known to help the body in absorbing more iron from plant-based foods, which lets the immune system work properly and prevents diseases from occurring.

When it comes to how you receive vitamin C, most people are able to achieve their recommended daily allowance of vitamin C through diet alone. However, there are those who benefit from taking a vitamin C supplement. To increase the amount of vitamin C that you receive without having to purchase a supplement, consider adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet. Citrus fruits are especially known for their high vitamin C levels. The following fruits and vegetables are great, natural sources of vitamin C:

  • Kiwis
  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Strawberries
  • Cantaloupe
  • Red/Green peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Broccoli
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Baked potatoes

Woman holding her stomach in pin

Too Much of a Good Thing?
In a traditional overdose sense, as in fatality, vitamin C is highly unlikely to be harmful. However, if you do take in too much vitamin C you may end up with unpleasant side effects. Some of these side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diarrhea

While these are certainly uncomfortable, they are highly unlikely to end in a fatal overdose. It is important to note that in periods of extended vomiting or diarrhea, dehydration may be a result. Dehydration leads to extreme thirst, fatigue and reduced blood pressure and urine output. Additionally, prolonged vomiting and diarrhea can lead to other mineral and vitamin imbalances in your body, so it is important to keep an eye on how much vitamin C your body needs and how much you are getting.

The average adult male should aim for about 90mg of vitamin C each day. The average adult woman needs about 75mg of vitamin C each day. People who require more vitamin C include smokers, pregnant and breastfeeding women. Getting vitamin C is easy when you are sure to include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetable in your diet. While you can give yourself some unpleasant side effects if you take too much vitamin, generally speaking it is difficult to truly overdose on vitamin C. If you have any questions about how much vitamin C or what type of vitamin C you should be taking, schedule an appointment with your doctor.