Vitamin C, an essential nutrient for health, is water-soluble, so your body does not store more than it can use. Getting your daily vitamin C from food sources is easy with a well-balanced diet. However, some people take high-dose supplements of vitamin C to enhance their immune-system functions. Too much vitamin C in your diet can result in stomach upset and bouts of diarrhea.
Passing loose, watery stools three or more times a day means you have diarrhea. Most people have an occasional bout of diarrhea, but it generally subsides after a couple of days. Acute diarrhea is generally associated with contaminated foods and viral infections. Diarrhea may lead to dehydration and loss of electrolytes. High-dose use of vitamin C supplements can lead to acute diarrhea, but it usually ends when the dosage is reduced.
Recommended Vitamin C Dose
The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is 75 milligrams for women and 90 milligrams for men. During pregnancy and lactation the dose can increase from 85 to 120 milligrams per day. Getting the daily recommended amount of vitamin C is important for keeping your immune system healthy and forming collagen, the structural component of tendons and blood vessels. Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant that protects your cells from harmful free radicals. The tolerable upper-intake level of vitamin C should not exceed 2,000 milligrams per day.
If you get diarrhea from too much vitamin C, decrease your dose to the recommended amount, or contact your physician for a dosing recommendation. Replace your lost fluids with plenty of water throughout the day, and avoid caffeine and sweet and greasy foods, which may perpetuate your diarrhea. Temporarily lower your fiber intake until your stool bulks up. Follow a bland-food diet composed of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast, because these foods make your stool firmer and replace the nutrients your body has lost from diarrhea.
Although high-dose vitamin C may not be detrimental to your health, you can experience gastrointestinal discomfort and diarrhea for longer than necessary with megadoses of vitamin C. Once you recover from the diarrhea, prevent recurrence with a healthy diet that includes whole grains, fruits and vegetables that add fiber for stool bulk and low-fat foods for better digestion. Also drink an adequate amount of water.