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Is Too Much Vitamin C Bad For Your Kidneys

Which Vitamins Do I Need To Avoid If I Have Kidney Disease

Taking too much vitamin C could lead to kidney stones

You may need to avoid some vitamins and minerals if you have kidney disease. Some of these include vitamins A, E and K. These vitamins are more likely to build up in your body and can cause harm if you have too much. Over time, they can cause dizziness, nausea, and even death. You should only take these vitamins if your healthcare professional gives you a prescription for them. There is also some concern about vitamin C. Although some people may need to take a low dose of vitamin C, large doses may cause a buildup of oxalate in people with kidney disease. Oxalate may stay in the bones and soft tissue, which can cause pain and other issues over time.

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Dangerous Side Effects Of Taking Too Much Vitamin C

Many of us are looking for ways to boost our immune system and protect ourselves from COVID-19, so we are increasingly turning to supplements. But if not used properly, those supplements could go from friend to foe very quickly.

Vitamin C is one of the best-known immune-boosters out there, but even this vital substance can be misused and cause negative side effects to your health. Overdosing on vitamin C usually occurs from taking it in supplement form, which is why experts recommend ingesting most of your vitamin C through food, where the chances of getting too much are virtually zero.

Vitamin C has been lauded as a useful supplement in the battle against coronavirus. Clinical studies have shown that it can help with recovery in patients with severe COVID-19 symptoms.

Read on to find out how much of the supplement is safe to take, and the health issues taking too much of it could cause. And don’t miss The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

Dosing: How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much

Since nearly half of U.S. adults fail to consume the minimum requirements of vitamin C daily, it’s unlikely that the average person will overdo it on vitamin C.

So what are those minimum daily requirements? Per the National Academies, the recommended daily intake of vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men, or about 1.5 oranges.

However, those baseline starting levels are debated. Michels says a daily minimum of at least 200 milligrams is actually needed to maximize blood concentrations of vitamin C. He recommends 400 milligrams daily, though evidence suggests that even higher doses can help bolster vitamin C status and promote optimal cardiovascular benefits.*

When it comes to safety, those taking higher potency vitamin C supplements shouldn’t worryup to 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily is considered safe. Beyond that, the side effects listed above may begin to occur but are generally mild and short-lived, Michels says.

That’s because vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning it’s transported through the bloodstream and doesn’t need another mechanism to move around, like a fat-soluble vitamin does. Thanks to vitamin C’s water solubility, “the body can easily remove any excess through the kidneys,” Michels explains.

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Stick To Recommended Intake

So how much vitamin C can you take safely? The recommended intake for adult males is 90 mg a day, while the level suggested for adult females is 75 mg. However, if a woman is pregnant she will need 85 mg every day, and if she is nursing, that requirement rises to 120 mg daily. Pregnant women, nursing mothers, smokers, burn victims, and those recovering from surgery may need more vitamin C as prescribed by their doctor. The Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine has set the tolerable upper intake level of vitamin C to 2000 mg . This indicates the maximum amount you can take daily without any adverse effects on your health. But even this level of intake should be under the guidance of a physician.16

How Much Is Too Much Vitamin C

Best and Bad foods for Kidney Made Me Perfect Foods &  Drinks

By Jillian Levy, CHHC

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, which means the body can flush out excess vitamin C that it doesnt need. While this reduces the risk for vitamin C overdose/toxicity, its still possible to experience symptoms if you take too much vitamin C in supplement form.

What are the side effects of too much vitamin C? Some can include diarrhea, heartburn or other digestive issues, headaches, high iron levels, and potentially kidney stones.

How can you get the many vitamin C benefits without ingesting too much? The very best way is to get this vitamin naturally by eating vitamin-C rich foods some of the best being citrus fruits, green vegetables, berries and squash.

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Risk Is Real Benefits Arent

The Swedish study isnt the first to link vitamin C with kidney stones. A similar connection was observed in men by Dr. Gary C. Curhan and colleagues at the Harvard School of Public Health. Curiously, in an almost identical study in women, Curhans team didnt find any association between vitamin C intake and kidney stones.

Kidney stones form for a variety of reasons. Genes matter, as do gender , weight , and diet . The most common type of stone is a mixture of calcium and oxalate, a substance found in many foods. Some people break down vitamin C into oxalate, which may explain the connection with kidney stone formation.

Is there enough evidence to warn men, at least, from taking vitamin C supplements? Yes, says Dr. Curhan. High dose vitamin C supplements should be avoided, particularly if an individual has a history of calcium oxalate stones.

accompanying the vitamin C article, Dr. Robert H. Fletcher, emeritus professor of ambulatory care and prevention at Harvard Medical School, made the point a different way. If theres truly a cause-effect relationship, then one of every 680 people who take high-dose vitamin C would develop kidney stones. This is not an insignificant risk, Fletcher writes. But more to the point, is any additional risk worthwhile if high-dose ascorbic acid is not effective?

About the Author

Patrick J. Skerrett, Former Executive Editor, Harvard Health

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Vitamin C tends to fall into this category of over-enthusiastic use. “Most people think it’s fine to take as much Vitamin C as they want,” said Prof Rosenbloom. “I know people who take 10,000mg a day” when the upper tolerable limit is 2,000mg a day, she said.

There are repercussions for doing so. “Excessively large amounts of Vitamin C have been occasionally linked to hyperoxaluria, a condition where there is too much oxalate in the urine, said Kong. The excess oxalate can combine with calcium to form crystals and possibly, kidney stones. Otherwise, the most common side effects reported include diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.

Kong also warned against an excessive calcium intake. It can harm the kidneys and reduce absorption of other essential minerals like magnesium and iron, she said, adding that fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K are stored longer in the fatty tissues and the liver, and can lead to increased risks of toxicity if consumed excessively.

If youre not sure what the maximum safe limits of the vitamins and minerals are, check here.


Keeping to the expiry date isnt the only thing to ensure your vitamins effectiveness. Png advised to keep them in a cool and dry place, or refrigerated once opened.


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Vitamins That Can Damage Your Kidneys If Overdosed

Your kidneys regulate the daily balance between your intake of water and salt.

Getting sufficient nutrients from a healthy diet can help you improve kidney function, but you don’t typically need vitamin supplements for this purpose, according to a March 2014 review in Sports Medicine.

In fact, overloading your body with vitamins can damage your kidneys. Speak with your health care provider before using dietary supplements.

Read More: Signs and Symptoms of Enlarged Kidneys

Aids In Iron Absorption

Too much of this vitamin can lead to kidney stones!

While vitamin C is a useful, complementary strategy for optimizing iron absorption regardless of your dietary pattern, the synergy becomes even more important for vegetarians and vegans. For those who avoid animal products , vitamin C can play a crucial role in ensuring adequate iron absorption.*

While iron is found in plant-based sources like broccoli and spinach, plants only contain non-heme iron, which is much less bioavailable than heme ironthe kind found solely in animal sources. Luckily, vitamin C can enhance the absorption of nonheme iron, seriously increasing its bioavailability, Johnson explains.*

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Oxalate Stones And Nephropathy

High-dose vitamin C increases oxalate excretion and may cause oxalate crystallization, stone formation and nephropathy in susceptible patients. Several cases have been reported in patients receiving vitamin C supplements . Gender is a risk factor for dose-dependent oxalate stone formation . A vitamin C dose above 1000 mg/day was not associated with renal stone formation in women, yet 700 mg/day sufficed to induce stones in men . Apart from primary hyperoxaluria, a rare inborn error of metabolism, risk factors include fat malabsorption due to small bowel resection, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pancreatitis or gastric bypass , underlying chronic kidney disease, urinary outflow obstruction . However, in a recent prospective case series exploring high-dose vitamin C , no renal stones or kidney injury were reported .

What Is A Kidney Stone

A kidney stone is a hard deposit of salts and minerals that form inside your kidneys. Your kidneys remove waste and fluid from your blood, which makes urine. If you don’t have enough fluid in your blood, the wastes can accumulate and form into stones. These stones can be as small a grain of salt or grow to be as big as a golf ball.

Vitamin C intake, also called ascorbic acid, has been proposed as a risk factor for kidney stones formation because vitamin C may increase urinary oxalate excretion, a type of calcium salt responsible for some stones.

“Ingested vitamin C is partly converted to oxalate and excreted in the urine, thus potentially increasing the risk of calcium oxalate stone formation,” says Dr. Malik. “In a metabolic study of 24 individuals, 2 grams daily of vitamin C increased urinary oxalate excretion by about 22%.”

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Which Supplements Will I Need To Take

Depending on your health and other factors, your healthcare provider may recommend some of the following supplements:

  • B Complex: B complex vitamins are grouped together, but each has a different job to do.
  • One of the important functions of vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid is to work together with iron to prevent anemia. If you have anemia, it means you do not have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen from your lungs to all parts of your body.
  • Additional B vitamins, called thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid and niacin, can also be given as a supplement. These vitamins help to change the foods you eat into energy your body can use.
  • Iron: If you are taking medicine to treat anemia, you may also need to take an iron pill or have injectable iron. You should only take iron if your healthcare professional prescribes it for you.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is used to keep many different types of tissue healthy. It also helps wounds and bruises heal faster and may help prevent infections. Your healthcare professional may need to give you a prescription for this vitamin.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is important to maintain healthy bones. There are different types of vitamin D. You can take a vitamin D pill or have injectable vitamin D during your dialysis treatment if you are receiving dialysis. Your healthcare professional will tell you the type and amount you should be taking. You should only take vitamin D if your healthcare professional prescribes it for you.
  • Difference Between Dr Linus Pauling’s Recommendations And The Lpi’s Recommendation For Vitamin C Intake

    Kidney Stone Too Many Vitamins

    Dr. Pauling, for whom the Linus Pauling Institute has great respect, based his own recommendations for vitamin C largely on theoretical arguments. In developing his recommendations, he used cross-species comparisons, evolutionary arguments, the concept of biochemical individuality, and the amount of vitamin C likely consumed in a raw plant food diet. Using this approach, Dr. Pauling suggested in the early 1970s that the optimum daily intake may be about 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C and that everyone should get at least 200 to 250 mg/day. In a 1974 radio interview, he noted that “the first 250 mg is more important than any later 250 mg. The first 250 mg leads you up to the level where the blood is saturated. You can achieve a higher volume in the blood by a larger intake, but you get much better improvement for the first 250 mg than for additional grams.” Dr. Pauling significantly increased his recommendation in his 1986 book How To Live Longer and Feel Better. At the Linus Pauling Institute, we have based our vitamin C recommendations on the current body of scientific evidence, which is significantly greater than it was at Pauling’s time but remains incomplete owing to the many diverse functions of vitamin C in the human body that have yet to be fully understood.

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    How To Prevent Kidney Stones

    To help prevent kidney stones, drink eight to 12 cups of fluid a day. You may also need to reduce sodium and animal proteins such as meat and eggs in your diet.

    “Current scientific evidence agrees on the harmful effects of high meat or animal protein intake and low calcium diets, whereas high content of fruits and vegetables and a balanced intake of low-fat dairy products carry the lowest risk for kidney stones,” says Dr. Malik. “A balanced vegetarian diet with dairy products seems to be the most protective diet for kidney stone patients”.

    If you have had kidney stones and your doctor can determine the type of stones, they can give you more specific diet recommendations.

    Once you have had a kidney stone, you have a 35% to 50% chance of developing another stone within 10 years,” says Dr. Malik. “Follow your doctor’s recommendations to help prevent a recurrence.”

    Experiencing symptoms of kidney stones?800.922.0000

    Can You Have Too Much Ascorbic Acid

    Ascorbic acid, also called vitamin C, helps maintain your health. A diet rich in the vitamin helps lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. It also helps keep other tissues healthy, helping you create collagen required for strong bones, skin and connective tissue. However, if you take very large doses of ascorbic acid, usually from vitamin C supplements, you put yourself at risk of developing harmful side effects.

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    You may eat out a lot but most of us aren’t in that much trouble nutritionally, unless you belong to these categories. For instance, iron deficiency is the most common in pregnant women, said Kong. She also sees a lack of calcium and Vitamin D in the elderly not a good sign as they need those nutrients to build strong bones and avoid osteoporosis.

    Vitamin D deficiency is another example. Interestingly, Singaporean women are at risk of not getting enough of this vitamin, not because of their diet, but their skincare routine, said Yeo, citing a Ministry of Health report released in November 2018, which indicated that 40 per cent of Singaporeans lacked the vitamin. It is due to the increased use of sunscreen that lowered the amount of Vitamin D synthesised by the body from sunlight, she said.

    When it comes to Vitamin B12 deficiency, it is usually vegans and patients with certain inflammatory bowel disease who are likely to develop it, due to their restricted dietary intake, said Kong. Vitamin B12 is needed for everyone to make new red blood cells and for our nervous system to function optimally.

    “When you’re grocery shopping, picking up an energy bar or breakfast cereal, look at the supplement facts panel. If you see 100 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance , you may not need a multivitamin supplement, she said.

    Negative Side Effects Of A Vitamin C Overdose

    The danger of taking too many vitamins

    Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that supports your immune system, helps your body absorb iron and promotes growth and development. But while conventional wisdom may suggest that it’s good to load up on the nutrient, that’s not always the case. So, can you overdose on vitamin C?

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    First things first, here’s how much vitamin C adults should eat per day, according to the Mayo Clinic:

    But overdosing on vitamin C is possible, per the Mayo Clinic. Though the nutrient is water-soluble , you may not be able to process megadoses fast enough to avoid side effects. As a result, you can experience temporary symptoms of vitamin C overdose.

    It’s best to get vitamin C from plant sources rather than supplements, according to the Mayo Clinic. This will help you avoid vitamin C overdose symptoms while still ensuring you get enough of the nutrient.

    Still, to help you determine if too much vitamin C is the source of your discomfort, here are the vitamin C side effects to be aware of.

    How Many Milligrams of Vitamin C Is Too Much?

    According to the Mayo Clinic, adults shouldnât take more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day.

    But if you check the label of vitamin C supplements, you may notice that some contain more than the recommended daily dose. And indeed, taking megadoses like 3,000 or 6,000 milligrams of vitamin C is too much.

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