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You Asked: Can I Take Too Much Vitamin C?

You're asking and I am answering.

Dear Fit,
I am suffering from an awful Summer cold and have been taking two or three 1000 mg vitamin C supplements and drinking an EmergenC a day. Is there any danger in taking too much of the vitamin? Can I overdose on vitamin C?
—Sniffles and C

Summertime colds are the worst. Sorry to hear you are suffering. It sounds like you are determined to get rid of this cold, but I fear you are being overly aggressive with the vitamin C. I think this is a great question, and to hear my answer, just


First thing's first, the recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin C is only 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. For reference, one large orange contains about 160 percent of your daily C needs.

Eating more than 75 mg of vitamin C is easy to do and not likely to harm you. Since vitamin C is water soluble, meaning your body doesn't produce or store the nutrient so you need to eat it everyday, your body will flush out the excess. Taking mega doses of supplements, on the other hand, can have an adverse effect on your system. It can lead to nausea, diarrhea, kidney stones (because the kidneys filter waste from your blood) and inflammation of the stomach lining (gastritis). In extreme cases it can cause faintness, dizziness and fatigue. Definitely not the results you're looking for.

I hate to burst your proactive cold fighting bubble, but most research indicates that taking 200 mg or more of vitamin C a day after you're already sick does nothing to shorten the duration of a cold. You need to take the supplements daily with the possibility of shortening your cold by eight percent. The common cold generally lasts seven to ten days, and the best remedy is to drink extra liquids and get plenty of rest.

Hope you feel better soon.


Join The Conversation
Im15152605 Im15152605 3 years
If I'm feeling rundown or have been in contact with friends that are sick I have a couple of Ener-C. I add it to my smoothie in the morning and the added vitamin c helps keep me healthy. Whether it is a placebo effect or not it seems to give me a boost. I use to buy Emergen-C but I like the taste of enerc better. I found a deal at a online shop
LNBraun LNBraun 4 years
I challenge the writer of this article to source every claim he or she made above. There is not a single research study that proves vitamin C causes kidney stones. In fact, several studies expose the opposite -- that there is no\u00a0correlation\u00a0between vitamin C consumption and kidney stones. Get the facts straight before you offer your advice!
Bobby1425 Bobby1425 8 years
I take 5g of Vitamin C daily, is it a waste? Maybe. Im not sure I havent had any adverse effects. I think you will be fine! The advise on only taking 75-90 milligrams a day is ridiculous, because everyones body is different it is hard to say how much is right for you. There have been many studies on this, if you research you will be able to better understand the effects of VitaminC.
ElectroPopTart ElectroPopTart 9 years
If I feel a cold coming on or I am going to be in a super crowded place, I skip my multi vitamin for the day and take one emergen-C.
hkmarks hkmarks 9 years
Some vitamin C pills (chewables, I think) contain sodium ascorbate, so you don't want to take several a day of those without watching your blood pressure (or so I've heard). Taking too much Vitamin C can supposedly give you an upset stomach or diarrhea, but it's extremely non-toxic stuff. However, 3x 1000mg pills is way more than you need. You're better off just eating some extra fruit.
SaucySassy SaucySassy 9 years
You cannot OD on Vitamin C. 10K mg is even safe to take. As spectra says - its water soluble - So really your just passing "expensive urine" :) But 2000 mg is a great way to ward off colds and keep immunity levels up. Be careful with B, D, A and other minerals (iron, potassium, calcium) Stick to Daily Reccommended Doses. Don't forget these are in the food you eat as well.
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Vitamin C and other water-soluble vitamins are really hard to OD on. Your body will excrete them out if you have too much of them in your blood. You CAN however, OD on certain fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin D. That is why Eskimos never eat polar bear livers...they are literally toxic to humans.
kia kia 9 years
I love EmergenC and take a packet almost every day as a way to wash down more fluid while I am working outdoors. I make sure to drink a lot of plain water too just so that my kidneys are not taxed.
NatureMadeLisa NatureMadeLisa 9 years
Seems to me like taking more Vitamin C would be futile after 200 mg - especially if you take it all at once. Our bodies can only absorb and utilize a certain amount. If you do want to blast your body with C, I would probably space it out during the day.
Leanne1078 Leanne1078 9 years
Ok, the RDI for vitamins were created in the 1930's. Its time to stop following them. Research this yourself, but there are plenty of studies that show you can take much much more than that with no trouble. I have been trained by some of the top supplement companies out there, and not one has recommended you just do 75 mg of Vit C. They all have various studies to back up their info, so like I said, do some research. Everyone is different in how they will react to different things. Vit C is not the best thing to take once you already have a cold, and there are better herbs that will do the trick a lot more efficiently. I personally like elderberry (sambucol).
imLissy imLissy 9 years
I took airborne, according to the directions once time and I didn't get my mom's cold, but my poor tummy suffered X(
silly3 silly3 9 years
I had a friend in college who took mega amounts of Vit C when she was getting a cold freshman year and she got sweaty and nauseous for several days. Ever since seeing her go through that, I've been careful when trying to stave off a cold!
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