How to Avoid Vitamin C
Side Effects

Not too many people worry about Vitamin C side effects, as it is a virtual elixir for good health. It's one of the best antioxidants out there, and the fact that it's water soluble means that excessive amounts will be flushed out of your body rather than being stored. Nevertheless, in the case of vitamin C supplements, it is remotely possible to get too much of a good thing.

Why Your Body Needs Vitamin C

Your body is a miraculous instrument, and vitamins and minerals, along with other nutrients, keep you functioning optimally. Vitamin C is essential in regenerating the cells in your skin, cartilage, bones, teeth, blood vessels, and other important organs. If you get a cut or some other injury, this vitamin is important to the healing process and the formation of scar tissue. It also aids in your body's absorption of iron.

The antioxidant properties of vitamin C protect the cells in your body from the damage caused by free radicals. These are those elements that are formed as a reaction to poor eating habits or environmental pollutants such as cigarette smoke.

vitaminc side effects

Over time, as these free radicals accumulate, your body's aging process starts to go over the speed limit, making you older before your time. Furthermore, without the antioxidants provided by vitamin C, your body may be more susceptible to conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

At one time, vitamin C was believed to help cure or prevent the common cold, but current studies have shown that this is not true for most people. Still, there is some evidence that many people who include Vitamin C supplements in their daily regimen tend to have shorter, milder colds. You don't want to wait to take vitamin C until you already have cold symptoms, though; that doesn't seem to have any effect whatsoever.

Food Sources

You should note that vitamin C side effects do not usually occur when you're getting your vitamin C from the foods you eat. There are plenty of foods that contain vitamin C; in fact, it occurs to some degree in every fruit and vegetable. Since your body does not manufacture or store vitamin C, it is extremely important to include a healthy amount of these vitamin C- rich sources in your everyday diet: 


  • Any citrus fruit or juice; especially orange and grapefruit
  • Kiwi 
  • Papaya
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Mango
  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice


  • Leafy greens such as spinach, turnip greens, cabbage, kale, and Swiss chard
  • Green and red peppers
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Butternut squash and other winter squash

For maximum benefit, be sure to select only fresh produce and use it as soon as possible rather than storing it. Storing and cooking these foods tend to diminish the potency of the vitamins.

For best results, serve fruits and vegetables uncooked, if possible; if they must be cooked, steaming or cooking them in the microwave will have less effect on the vitamin content.

ODing on Vitamin C Supplements?

Although it's recommended to get all your vitamin C from food, many people have poor eating habits or other dietary issues, so they choose to add a vitamin C supplement to their diet. This is fine, as long as you don't overdo it. That's when vitamin C side effects come into play.

For most adults, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C is between 65 and 90 milligrams per day. 1000 milligrams is considered excessive, but 2000 milligrams is considered the absolute upper limit. So you can see that there is actually a good bit of wiggle room before you get into the area where you might experience vitamin C side effects.

If you should go overboard with vitamin C supplements, the results won't necessarily be harmful, but you could experience some very unpleasant symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal cramps and bloating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Headache
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Burning sensation when urinating
  • Skin sensitivity
  • Kidney stones

I personally get headaches when I take nutritional supplements, however sometimes they are necessary. I have found that food based vitamin C supplements have a better effect on my body and do not give me headaches. Also, I need less to get a good result.

Special Considerations

In some cases, people with certain conditions could be at risk for more harmful vitamin C side effects. The risk varies according to the condition and the amount of vitamin C involved. If you fall under one of these categories, be sure to consult a physician before you consider adding any vitamin supplements to your diet.

  • Diabetics should avoid taking vitamin C supplements other than the amount in a multivitamin tablet. Not only can vitamin C raise your blood sugar, it can also create a higher risk of heart disease death in older women.
  • Some disorders involving iron in the blood can be aggravated by vitamin C because of its ability to boost the absorption of iron.
  • In pregnant women, high doses of vitamin C could lead to problems for the infant.
  • Anyone planning to undergo an angioplasty should avoid antioxidant supplements, including vitamin C, before and after the procedure because they can interfere with the healing process.
  • Cancer patients should avoid high doses of vitamin C unless a physician gives the go-ahead. The cells in cancerous tumors tend to accumulate vitamin C in abnormal concentrations, and at this point it is unclear how that can affect your body.
  • Vitamin C also seems to worsen the symptoms of sickle cell disease.
  • Anyone with a history of kidney stones should avoid taking an excessive amount of vitamin C.

A Final Word

We all want to be healthy, but sometimes we can get a little over-enthusiastic when it comes to nutritional supplements. To avoid falling victim to vitamin C side effects, many experts recommend a daily allowance lower than 500 milligrams. This would allow for a little flexibility, considering your diet may be providing a good percentage of the nutrient.

Another thing to consider is the amount of water you drink. Since the excessive amounts of vitamin C must be flushed from your system through your urine and perspiration, you need to be sure you are sufficiently hydrated for your system to actually do the flushing. There are many different guidelines for how much water you should drink, but a standard rule of thumb is to drink enough so that you never feel thirsty.

HomeNatural Health Information > Vitamin C Side Effects

New! Comments

Share your thoughts about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.