Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is a common supplement taken by many people every day. Some of the reasons people take vitamin C include the prevention and treatment of colds, to prevent the appearance of skin aging, and for its antioxidant properties, just to name a few. Many people erroneously assume that vitamin C is harmless, but just like anything else, too much of a good thing can turn into what looks like a vitamin C overdose.
Technically, a vitamin C overdose is not possible, because vitamin C is not stored by the body--but it is still possible to take too much vitamin C at one time. Most health experts recommend taking between 500 and 2,000 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C a day, even though the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is just 75 to 90 mg. More than 2,000 mg a day is almost never recommended, but if you have any specific questions, illnesses, or dietary needs, you should contact your physician.
The symptoms of an overdose of vitamin C generally include diarrhea, nausea and/or vomiting, increased urination, a flushed face, and a headache. These symptoms are usually not especially harmful, and will begin to cease when the toxicity levels of vitamin C in the body decrease, which happens relatively quickly. If you are experiencing diarrhea or vomiting, it is important to stay hydrated. Obviously, if you begin to experience these symptoms, immediately stop taking vitamin C. It is probably a good idea to contact your physician and find out what amount you can safely take.
One way to prevent a vitamin C overdose is to get your nutrients from the foods you eat. Eating foods rich in vitamin C is just as effective, if not more so, than taking the nutrient in a pill form. Fruits and vegetables are delicious and rich in vitamin C, and you don't need to worry about getting too much vitamin C into your system that way.
Another option to prevent a vitamin C overdose is to take a multivitamin that contains vitamin C, instead of taking just a separate vitamin C pill. The levels of vitamin C in a multivitamin are generally low enough that they won't cause any stomach irritation, while still providing health benefits. A multivitamin combined with a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables should ensure you get all the vitamin C you need, without the risk of any potentially unpleasant or harmful side effects.