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Vitamin C Toxicity

(Ascorbic Acid Toxicity)

By

Larry E. Johnson

, MD, PhD, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

Last full review/revision Aug 2019| Content last modified Aug 2019
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Intake of > 2 g of vitamin C a day may cause nausea and diarrhea, interfere with the healthy antioxidant-prooxidant balance in the body, and, in patients with thalassemia or hemochromatosis, promote iron overload.

Vitamin C plays a role in collagen, carnitine, hormone, and amino acid formation. It is essential for bone and blood vessel health and wound healing and facilitates recovery from burns. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, supports immune function, and facilitates the absorption of iron (see table Sources, Functions, and Effects of Vitamins).

Dietary sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, and sweet peppers. (See also Overview of Vitamins.)

The upper limit for vitamin C intake is 2000 mg/day.

Up to 10 g/day of vitamin C are sometimes taken for unproven health benefits, such as preventing or shortening the duration of viral infections or slowing or reversing the progression of cancer or atherosclerosis. Such doses may acidify the urine, cause nausea and diarrhea, interfere with the healthy antioxidant-prooxidant balance in the body, and, in patients with thalassemia or hemochromatosis, promote iron overload.

Intake of vitamin C below the upper limit does not have toxic effects in healthy adults.

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NOTE: This is the Professional Version. CONSUMERS: Click here for the Consumer Version
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