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What Are the Treatments for a Vitamin C Overdose?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier

Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for the body, but overuse of the substance can cause significant health issues. An individual who suspects a vitamin C overdose can undergo self-treatment by altering vitamin C intake. Serious or ongoing symptoms could be due to a preexisting condition, however, and should be monitored by a medical professional. Treatment focuses on dealing with the symptoms of an overdose.

The human body requires vitamin C in order to function properly. A lack of it can cause a condition called scurvy, which is characterized by increased bleeding, gum and skin disease, and a general feeling of sickness. Prolonged vitamin C deficiency can even result in death. While human beings naturally create this substance, the body does not produce enough to sustain the its needs. Therefore, individuals must meet their requirements via vitamin C-rich foods or supplements.

Stomachache is one symptom of a vitamin C overdose.
Stomachache is one symptom of a vitamin C overdose.

Taking supplements is what most often leads to a vitamin C overdose, however. The symptoms of an overdose include stomachache, diarrhea, and cramping. Abuse can also cause more serious symptoms, however, such as kidney stones, breathing difficulties, and impaired metabolism.

Perhaps the best means of combating a vitamin C overdose is ceasing or significantly diminishing intake. The moderation and control of vitamin C will eliminate most overdose symptoms. A recommended daily dosage typically suggests roughly 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. These suggestions may vary depending on factors like stress and smoking history. Some evidence suggests that a large intake of water along with supplements may diminish the possibility of a potential overdose and may even prove helpful when recovering from an overdose.

Vitamin C abuse may cause kidney stones.
Vitamin C abuse may cause kidney stones.

Some underlying conditions may facilitate a vitamin C overdose, so treatment of these conditions may be essential. This effect is generally caused by certain ailments that produce excessive amounts of iron, which can adversely interact with vitamin C in high doses. Examples include the following: copper deficiency, bruises, muscular problems, and inflammatory diseases like arthritis.

Large doses of vitamin C may cause headache and fatigue.
Large doses of vitamin C may cause headache and fatigue.

Most vitamin C overdose treatments focus on associated symptoms. For example, diarrhea brought about by excessive vitamin C may be managed with one of the various anti-diarrhea medications available in pharmacies. Similar bouts of nausea or cramping may also benefit from over-the-counter drugs. As for more serious side effects like difficulty breathing or potential kidney effects, a physician's visit is essential. A medical professional can assess the level of damage and act as needed, either offering prescriptions or ordering tests and procedures.

Discussion Comments


@turquoise-- If you only get your vitamin C through foods, you won't overdose on vitamin C. Beware of energy drinks and supplements though. Some have unbelievable amounts of vitamin C in them. I saw one energy drink that had something like one thousand times the daily required vitamin C dosage. I have no idea why they even allow these products on the market. Get your vitamin C from fruits and vegetables. You cannot overdose from foods.


@turquoise-- I'm glad that you asked this question.

It's true that vitamin C is water soluble. So the excess amount of vitamin C that our body does not require is excreted through our urine. This is precisely why we need to get vitamin C every day, because our body does not store any for later use.

Even though the body gets rid of extra vitamin C, keep in mind that this occurs as a result of filtering done by the kidneys. The kidneys filter out excess water soluble vitamins into urine. But if you intake a very large amount of vitamin C, the kidneys will not be able to filter them out very quickly. During this process, the large amounts of vitamin C in your body can become toxic and cause various negative symptoms. This is what we mean when we say vitamin C overdose.

Thankfully though, if you stop taking vitamin C right away, and drink lots of water, the excess vitamin C will eventually be removed. If the symptoms get severe however, you should go to the hospital. In these cases, doctors usually use an IV to remove the excess vitamin more quickly.


How can I overdose on vitamin C? Isn't vitamin C a water soluble vitamin? I thought that it's impossible to overdose on water soluble vitamins.

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    • Stomachache is one symptom of a vitamin C overdose.
      By: jinga80
      Stomachache is one symptom of a vitamin C overdose.
    • Vitamin C abuse may cause kidney stones.
      By: airborne77
      Vitamin C abuse may cause kidney stones.
    • Large doses of vitamin C may cause headache and fatigue.
      By: lithian
      Large doses of vitamin C may cause headache and fatigue.