It’s been said that too much of something is never a good thing, and believe it or not, that’s even true with vitamins, which are things that our bodies absolutely require in order to function and process. In the case of high dose vitamin C, side effects of taking more than the recommended can not only outweigh benefits, but be quite dangerous, which may be a surprise to many people since it’s considered to be such a safe and essential vitamin.
Before getting into the cold hard facts about why too much of a nutrient can be as bad as too little, you have to understand a few things. For starters, there is only so much room in your body. The laws of physics don’t stop working once you’re on the inside of your anatomy as opposed to the outside. Just as calcium and magnesium fight for absorption rights, taking high dose vitamin C can affect the levels of many other nutrients (up to 9 in fact) that were already hanging around in your system. So, for instance, if you’re already running low on copper, and you take very high dose vitamin C supplement, you may see even further depletion of your copper reserves which can actually depress the immune system.
Now don’t panic. You don’t need to run out and have a vitamin C flush because you just popped two liposomal encapsulated vitamin C capsules on the subway because the kid next to you kept sneezing. What it does mean however is that your ultimate goal with nutrients is to achieve balance. This means not having too much of something and being deficient in something else. This is why, when deciding to take vitamin supplements, it is recommended to take a full complex of vitamins, rather than just one particular type alone.
Physical side effects of high dose vitamin C can be, although rarely, severe and certainly can outweigh the benefits of cold prevention that you might have hoped for. For instance, gastrointestinal issues can arise such as vomiting, stomach cramps, and heartburn. Diarrhea, or more more commonly loser stool, is one of the best known so-called side effects of vitamin C when taken in dosage of over 4000 mg daily. Headaches have also been reported, but these are very rare since vitamin C is actually better known for its benefits in relieving headaches! Remember that these side effects may worsen depending on how oversized your high dose vitamin C quantity was. However, unless you are a cancer patient that receives 20,000 mg of vitamin C daily, you should do well with 2000 mg of vitamin C supplement and enjoy its numerous health benefits.
For people with kidney stones and other health conditions, vitamin C dosage over 1000 mg per day is considered potentially not safe and could exacerbate existing health conditions or create new kidney stones. Most human bodies, however, can tolerate normally anything under 4000 mg per day (especially as a cold remedy) without severe adverse side effects, other than lose stool.
The side effects associated with taking extremely large doses of vitamin C can be dangerous and certainly outweigh the benefits associated with additional vitamin C. If you are planning on taking this vitamin to correct a suspected deficiency, talk to your doctor about how much vitamin C is safe for you and about adjacent dietary changes to get your system in balance. If you are taking large doses in an effort to avoid a cold or increase immunity, stay within your recommended daily guidelines and talk to your doctor to determine if high dosing is safe for you and in what amount.