A balanced diet for the average human includes adequate intake of nutrients including vitamin C. Responsible for various functions of the body, the contribution of vitamin C for good health is critical in nature. Popularly known as ascorbic acid, the nutrient is found in various food products and dietary supplements. While it is tough for an individual to actually end up with an overdose of vitamin C, the possibility exists. It is also true that high doses of vitamin C as a result of excessive intake through supplements could have adverse effects. Here is a look at vitamin c side effects and simple measures to prevent or mitigate the adverse effects.
Role of vitamin C in various biological functions
To understand more about vitamin c side effects, it is important to learn its role in various functions of the body. For instance, it is critical for synthesis of collagen, and has a very important role in the repair and maintenance of cartilage. This gives it a pivotal function in wound healing; additionally, its properties in maintenance of bones and teeth makes it extremely important for overall health. As an anti-oxidant, it plays an essential role in combating damage to cells by neutralizing the free radicals. Throughout the ages, vitamin C has been used effectively for treating scurvy and many ailments that are attributed to a deficiency in the essential nutrient.
It has also been a part of treatment protocols for the management of covid-19 symptoms, the dreaded disease that has turned into a global pandemic. It has been historically used in treating cold and other disorders related to cold. It has often been regarded as a natural immune booster and this is precisely the reason behind its use for treating or managing infections. The best sources for the nutrient are fruits and vegetables, with citrus fruits regarded as the best among all sources.
Conditions that are attributed to vitamin C deficiency
Various conditions are attributed to vitamin C deficiency and it is essential to learn all about it as this will give a clearer picture about vitamin c side effects. Manifestations of the deficiency include scurvy, fatigue, outbreak of rashes, bleeding in the gums and tendency to bruise easily. Individuals who are deficient are more likely to feel extremely tired all the time. It is noteworthy to learn that around seven percent of the US population are reportedly deficient in vitamin C. In addition to helping manage the above conditions that are attributed to vitamin C deficiency, supplements are also prescribed to tackle various other conditions. For instance, individuals with asthma, cataract, and bronchitis are also recommended supplements.
Similarly, patients with chronic pain, gastritis, high blood pressure and Parkinson’s are also recommended vitamin C. Finally, individuals with osteoarthritis, gastritis, cancer and heart ailments are advised to take supplements to manage the condition. While there are no documented research findings or evidences that attribute specific reasons for the benefits from vitamin C supplements in the above conditions, the overall outcomes have proven to be promising. This is exactly why the supplements are used for managing above conditions and various other conditions.
Possible vitamin c side effects that could be experienced by users
As mentioned above, the possibility of vitamin c side effects can not be ruled out, though it is relatively safe. Some of the possible adverse effects include cramps in the stomach and heartburn. Individuals on vitamin C may also experience headaches and be exposed to the risk of bouts of diarrhea. Formation of kidney stones also cannot be ruled out in rare instances of extremely high dosages, while nausea is another possible side effect of the supplement. It is necessary to understand that this compilation of side effects effectively means that there is a possibility of individuals experiencing some of these side effects. It does not imply that everyone who takes vitamin C supplements will experience undesirable effects.
Pregnant women are advised to maintain the right dosage of supplements, to prevent excessive dosages that may result in undesirable effects. Blood sugar levels are likely to increase in individuals on the supplements. It is therefore necessary for diabetics to exercise caution when on vitamin C supplements. This is especially important when the supplements are taken on a long-term basis or when high doses of the supplement are taken. There are instances of elderly women with diabetes being exposed to severe risk when the dosage is in excess of 300 milligrams per day.
Vitamin c side effects : possible drug interactions
Among the possible vitamin c side effects, drug interactions cannot be ruled out in specific instances. For instance, vitamin C is known to have an impact when it is taken alongside other medications. Drug interactions also include the possibility of vitamin C supplements affecting the efficacy of certain drugs or processes. The mechanism of action of certain medications or processes could be affected as a result of vitamin C supplements. Individuals on specific medications are advised to intimate the same to treating specialists when recommended vitamin C supplements. Similarly, it is important to seek medica advice before taking OTC vitamin C supplements, when the individual has a history of certain conditions or is on medications to treat certain conditions. This includes patients on anti-psychotic drugs of certain categories, as vitamin C is known to reduce the efficacy or the desired outcome of specific medications.
The concentration of the medications in the blood or the ingredients are reduced and this results in lessening the outcomes of the medication. Similarly, vitamin C is also known to have an impact on chemotherapy drugs. The desired outcomes or the mechanism of action of certain drugs used during chemotherapy are likely to be affected by vitamin C. It is therefore necessary to seek medical advice about vitamin c side effects when prescribed chemotherapy drugs. Another action of vitamin C supplements is the possible impact on drugs that contain estrogen. Certain contraceptive medications or treatments include estrogen and the natural or desired outcomes include the elimination or flushing of estrogen from the body. Vitamin C is known to slow down this process and this results in triggering the onset of side effects associated with excessive estrogen. To prevent the manifestation of hormonal side effects, it is necessary to avoid taking both vitamin C supplements and hormone therapy/estrogen contraceptives.
Ensure right dosage to prevent vitamin c side effects
In most instances, vitamin c side effects are attributed to incorrect dosage. Regardless of the type of medication or supplements, it is necessary to follow the recommended dosages. For instance, individuals on OTC formulations or supplements are most likely to ignore recommendations, since there is a perception of safety. Individuals consider OTC formulations safe, and consequently, end up taking incorrect dosages.
Vitamin C supplements like many other supplements need to be within the average RDA or recommended dietary allowance. While the dosage considerations are primarily governed by age, there are other factors also that need to be considered. Typically, the dose is the least for children and the highest dosages are intended for women who are nursing infants. The least dose is 40 milligrams per day for children below the age of six months, and this gradually increases with age to around 90 milligrams per day for adults. Pregnant women and breastfeeding women belong to the higher dosage category, with the typical average RDA capped at 120 milligrams per day. By following the recommendations, it is possible to avoid vitamin c side effects.
The above recommendations are the average dosages in typical scenarios and this may increase or decrease depending on various other parameters and health conditions. For instance, individuals who smoke are recommended to take an additional 35 milligrams of vitamin C supplements per day. This is because of the impact of smoking that compromises the levels of nutrients in the body. Similarly, individuals with various conditions that indicate vitamin C deficiency are recommended higher dosages depending on the levels of deficiency.
Difference between RDA and supplements for specific conditions
The symptoms mentioned in the previous section possibly indicate excessive doses or undesirable vitamin c side effects. The upper limit of the supplement, as per documented studies is 2000 mg, regardless of the condition or age group. As mentioned, the RDA compiled above is intended as RDA for healthy individuals. Patients with various conditions may require stronger dosages. Here are upper limits of vitamin C supplements that can be safely taken per day for various age groups. This effectively means that individuals of the listed age groups are not to take vitamin C supplements beyond the upper limits for any reason whatsoever. This will help prevent vitamin c side effects. Infants below three years of age are not to be give more than 400 mg per day, while children between four and eight years are not to be given more than 650 mg.
Between the ages of nine and thirteen, children are not to be given vitamin C in excess of 1200 mg, while in the case of teens between fourteen and eighteen years of age, the limit is capped at 1800 mg. Women with suckling infants are advised to limit the intake to 1800 mg per day and under no circumstances, should any individual take more than 2000 mg per day, as this can lead to adverse or serious vitamin c side effects. Serious side effects as a result of excessive dosage include the formation of kidney stones, and nutrient imbalance. When the levels of vitamin C trigger an imbalance, this could result in an impact on other actions and functions in the body that are driven by balanced levels of nutrients.