An overdose of vitamin C is usually not dangerous for healthy people. However, those who are sensitive to vitamin C must expect digestive problems. Although this occurs only in very few people. In this guide, you can find out what the symptoms of an overdose are, what to do then and how much vitamin C is recommended for babies, children, and dogs.
Healthy diet: what is vitamin C good for?
Vitamin C is useful after intense physical activity and contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system. With adequate intake of ascorbic acid, collagen is formed in the body. Thereby, the blood vessels are regulated. This is especially true for:
Vitamin C regulates mental function and the immune system. It also ensures that your cells are protected from oxidative stress. Fatigue as well can be combated with it. Last but not least, vitamin increases iron absorption.
How can vitamin C overdose happen?
A deficiency of ascorbic acid rarely occurs in industrialized countries. The diet is simply too varied, rich in nutrients and thus balanced for that. In this country, an adult consumes an average of 100 mg of vitamin C per day. Therefore, deficiency symptoms resulting in serious diseases such as scurvy occur only rarely. This is the so-called seafarer’s disease. This name originates from a time when sailors were often at sea for many months and, consequently, they could only eat a very unbalanced diet. The result was, among other things, a vitamin C deficiency that lasted for a long time. This deficiency led to tooth loss, infections, joint pain, and poor wound healing. In addition, slight bleeding can occur, which is noticeable in the internal organs, muscles, mucous membranes, and skin. These signs are symptoms of long-term vitamin C deficiency. Today, seafarers’ disease occurs almost exclusively in developing countries.
Psychological symptoms of vitamin C deficiency
If you suffer from a vitamin C deficiency, the symptoms that appear do not always have to relate to physical symptoms. Deficiency symptoms can also show up on a psychological level. For example, in the form of:
These symptoms suggest that a healthy diet may be helpful, which involves adding foods containing vitamin C to the menu in a variety of forms to benefit not only the body but also the mind. However, a deficiency of ascorbic acid can also lead to hair loss. This has to do with the simple fact that the vitamin ensures better absorption and utilization of iron. If the body has a lack of vitamin C, it usually also lacks iron, which can cause the unwanted hair loss.
An overdose in healthy people, is actually hardly possible. Too much absorbed ascorbic acid is simply excreted undigested in the urine. The body has no deposits of its own in which it can store ascorbic acid. Therefore, it only uses what is currently available and only when it is needed. Everything that goes beyond that ends up in the toilet. Generally, however, it is possible to expect your body to take too much. This can happen when dietary supplements are taken, and the dosage specified by the producer is significantly exceeded.
Symptoms of overdose
If you have ingested large amounts of ascorbic acid (for example, in the form of capsules or effervescent tablets), the overdose may show certain side effects. If you ingest more than three to four grams, you can expect gastrointestinal problems. This applies in particular to diarrhea, because in this way the body tries to get rid of too much absorbed ascorbic acid quickly. To do this, however, you would have to drink at least six liters of orange juice or take certain vitamin C preparations from drugstores, pharmacies, health food stores, the Internet, or supermarkets contrary to the instructions of the manufacturer.
In the case of an overdose, there is usually no specific treatment, as the body excretes excess material undigested. However, if you need additional supplementation but cannot tolerate ascorbic acid, you can alternatively consume artificially produced ascorbate. The so-called “buffered vitamin C” is not as stable but is metabolized very well. It will also not cause hyperacidity. If you know you have ingested too much ascorbic acid, you can neutralize with baking soda. When taking sodium bicarbonate, however, you should follow the producer’s instructions.
Healthy diet: general overdose of dietary supplements
Dietary supplements are to be distinguished from conventional foods because they contain certain nutrients in concentrated isolated form. An overdose is therefore possible more quickly. Even though these preparations are often declared as “good for the body”, this can quickly become “harmful to health”. In the European Union there are still no regulations in which standardized maximum quantities for food supplements are specified. National regulations apply in some countries, but not in Germany. Here, a change is possible in the foreseeable future and is already under discussion. In some countries, national regulations take effect, but not in Germany. Here, a change is possible in the foreseeable future and is already under discussion. This would meet the long-standing demands of consumer groups.
For us at Nature Basics it is extremely important that our products are not artificially or heavily overdosed, but we work only as a guideline with the natural daily doses.
How much can a child take?
Babies and children should take significantly less ascorbic acid than adults, as their requirements are lower. 20 mg per day is considered ideal for babies and toddlers up to four years of age. As the child grows older, the need for ascorbic acid also increases:
4 years: 30 mg
8 years 45 mg
12 years 65 mg
13 to 15 years 85 mg
19 years 100 mg
How much can a person take?
The German Nutrition Society makes the above-mentioned recommendation. At the same time, they point out that more vitamin C is not harmful. At least not if a maximum of 1 gram is supplemented to the normal diet. Especially in the cold months, many people use high-dose vitamin C supplements to complement their diet. These supplements are usually a combination of ascorbic acid and zinc and are supposed to protect against a bad cold. Interestingly, this protective effect from scientific studies is not as clear as, for example, with zinc. Accordingly, people should not think that taking quite a lot of vitamin C is already an effective protection against colds.
Vitamin C for animals
Dogs can also have disorders for which a vitamin C cure proves helpful. This applies, for example, to bone diseases such as dysplasia or osteoarthritis. The cure can be started with small amounts of vitamin C as part of a healthy diet and slowly increased over several weeks. How much ascorbic acid a dog needs, for example, cannot be generalized. In the event of an overdose, dogs react by the body excreting too much ingested material with diarrhea.
As a result, it can be said that vitamin C deficiency is rather rare in our society. A danger of an overdose is also unlikely and has no bad consequences. However, diarrhea and nausea can occur, but for this you would have to have already taken a strong overdose by too high doses of food supplements. The effect of vitamin C during the cold season is scientifically not as clear as one might think. However, it is recommended to take vitamin C in combination with zinc, ginger, and similar products. You can find natural supplements at Nature Basics. We pay special attention to an appropriate dosage and high quality of the products.