Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is found in many fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C plays an important role in collagen formation, and it also functions as an antioxidant, boosting the immune system. Although you need to consume vitamin C every day, too much can be toxic.
The tolerable upper limit is the maximum amount of a vitamin you can take each day without experiencing any ill effects. According to The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library, the tolerable upper limit for vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day, or 2 g. Anything above this amount could be considered as an overdose.
Common side effects of vitamin C overdose involve the digestive tract. If you consume more than 2,000 mg of vitamin C, you may develop severe gastrointestinal irritation and diarrhea. In addition to significant discomfort, extended episodes of diarrhea or vomiting can lead to dehydration, causing extreme thirst, fatigue, low urine output and reduced blood pressure. Diarrhea and vomiting can also cause additional mineral imbalances in the body.
Vitamin C is broken down by the body into a substance called oxalate. Some oxalate is secreted in urine, however high urinary oxalate levels may cause formation of deposits, known as kidney stones. High vitamin C intake is associated with an increased risk of oxalate kidney stones -- accounting for approximately 80 percent of all kidney stones.
Hemochromatosis is a condition caused by excess iron build-up in the body. This condition is commonly inherited, and most often affects the liver, heart and pancreas. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron. Although vitamin C overdose does not cause hemochromatosis, it can worsen the condition.
- Vitamin and Mineral Safety, Second Edition; John N. Hathcock, Ph.D.
- The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library: Vitamin C
- Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University; Vitamin C; Jane Higdon, Ph.D.; January 2006
- Pediatric Nephrology: Physiopathology and Etiology of Stone Formation in the Kidney and the Urinary Tract
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: What is Hemochromatosis?