Yes, you can take too much vitamin C.
According to the Office of Dietary Supplements National Institutes of Health, too much vitamin C can lead to hemochromatosis.
Hemochromatosis occurs when vitamin C causes the body to absorb too much iron, much more than it actually needs.
Because the body is being forced to absorb additional iron, it has to put it somewhere.
In this case the iron is stored in the pancreas, liver and the heart.
The end result can lead to disease of the pancreas, liver and the heart as well as the failure of other organs in the body.
If vitamin C toxicity is discovered early, then permanent damage such as the problems listed here can be avoided.
What does iron have to do with vitamin C?
Many people don’t realize this but vitamin C helps iron absorb in the body. Often, when a doctor prescribes iron to someone due to anemia, they will also recommend a vitamin C supplement to help with absorption.
What are the symptoms suggesting that I have taken too much vitamin C?
The really good news about taking too much vitamin C is that you will have the symptoms long before toxicity sets in. If you experience any of the following symptoms and you have been loading on vitamin C, then you should cut back on your dosage and talk to your doctor.
The symptoms of too much vitamin C include:
- Inability to sleep
- Kidney stones
- Stomach cramps
Typically, if you take a regular dose of vitamin C and you experience these symptoms, then it is because you are already getting enough vitamin C in your diet and you don’t need supplements.
According to the Mayo Clinic, you should be getting enough vitamin C in your diet, making supplements unnecessary. You may want to consider keeping a food diary to see what kinds of vitamins you are getting from your diet.
What kinds of foods contain vitamin C?
Okay, everybody knows that vitamin C comes from oranges, but did you know that there are other foods with vitamin C as well? What’s more, they don’t even contain the highest levels of vitamin C per serving.
That honor goes to bell peppers, which contain 290% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin C per cup! A single orange has about 35% of your RDA.
Foods high in vitamin C include:
- Bell Peppers
- Brussels Sprouts
- Fresh Parsley
- Mustard Greens
- Romaine lettuce
- Turnip Greens
This isn’t by any means a comprehensive list. You will find that there are a lot of foods that contain some level of vitamin C.
If you eat a well balanced diet containing both fruits and veggies, you should have no problem with your vitamin C levels.
How much vitamin C is a normal level?
Your levels of vitamin C should be maintained at1500 mg. This doesn’t mean that you need to supplement with 1500 mg of vitamin C; this is the amount that should be in your body at any given time for proper health.
As mentioned above, if you eat a healthy diet, then you should have no problem maintaining your vitamin C levels.
Your recommended daily allowance if you are taking supplements is a bit different. According to the National Library of Medicine website, your RDA for vitamin C, which is based on both age and gender is:
- 15 mg a day for children ages 1 to 3
- 25 mg a day for children 5 to 9
- 45 mg a day for children 9 to 13
- 65 mg a day for girls 14 to 18
- 75 mg a day for boys 14 to 18
- 90 mg a day for men over the age of 19
- 75 mg a day for women over the age of 19
In addition, people who smoke tobacco need to take an additional 35 mg of vitamin C each day.
It is important to note that you don’t need to take vitamins if you are getting enough vitamin C in your diet. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are getting enough, ask your doctor to check your blood for vitamin C levels.
In addition, if you are pregnant or nursing, you may need more vitamin C than the average person. Before you increase your dose, however, talk to your doctor.
Get your doctor’s opinion based on your diet and supplement regimen. You don’t want to increase your dose if it isn’t appropriate.