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Emergen-C & Diarrhea

author image Shannon George
Shannon George, former editor-in-chief of the trade magazine "Prime," holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from San Diego State University. Her health interests include vegetarian nutrition, weight training, yoga and training for foot races.
Emergen-C & Diarrhea
Vitamin C supplements like Emergen-C can sometimes trigger stomach upsets. Photo Credit Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images

Emergen-C is a powdered dietary supplement which turns into a sweet, fizzy drink when you add water. Each serving of Emergen-C contains a megadose of vitamin C, which may cause diarrhea in sensitive individuals. While the amount of vitamin C provided by one packet of Emergen-C is below the safe upper limit for vitamin C of 2,000 milligrams per day, consuming multiple Emergen-C servings within a single day may increase risk of side effects. Talk to your doctor before taking Emergen-C.

Diarrhea as a Side Effect of Emergen-C

Emergen-C supplements contain certain ingredients that may cause diarrhea in some people. In particular, each dose of Emergen-C contains a 1,000-milligram megadose of vitamin C, or 1,667 percent of the daily value for this nutrient. Megadoses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea as a side effect, as well as nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and kidney stones. Besides vitamin C, Emergen-C also contains a minute amount of soy, which could trigger diarrhea in people with soy allergy. Additionally, each serving of Emergen-C has 60 milligrams of magnesium, a mineral which is associated with laxative effects, though usually only when taken at higher doses than are provided by Emergen-C.

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Emergen-C to Treat Diarrhea

Although Emergen-C may, theoretically, cause diarrhea in people with sensitive stomachs, Emergen-C may also be used for rehydration you when you have diarrhea -- unless, of course, Emergen-C is what caused your diarrhea in the first place. A prepared Emergen-C drink provides water with electrolyte minerals, including sodium and potassium -- nutrients which help restore electrolytes and fluids lost through diarrhea. Emergen-C also provides 5 grams of sugar per serving, which helps the water in the drink move from your stomach and intestines to your bloodstream more quickly. Other sports drinks that provide electrolytes and carbs will provide the same rehydration benefits for diarrhea.

Other Emergen-C Side Effects

According to statistics compiled by MediGuard.org, side effects from Emergen-C are relatively rare. Based on results of polls sent to over 14,000 people, only 3 percent of Emergen-C users experience side effects, and 0 percent of those polled have experienced serious side effects, according to MediGuard.org. Among the 3 percent of respondents who had side effects from Emergen-C, the most common complaints were restlessness, altered sense of taste or smell, and nausea/vomiting. According to MadeMan.com, rarely, Emergen-C may cause stomach upset simply because you're unaccustomed to taking dietary supplement powders. Other rare side effects of Emergen-C include throat irritation and heartburn due to the drink's carbonation, according to MadeMan.com.


While consuming electrolytes, water and carbohydrates such as those provided by Emergen-C and sports drinks may help restore fluids lost through diarrhea, it is advisable to see a doctor for diarrhea in some cases. Although medications and dietary supplements can sometimes trigger diarrhea that resolves quickly and without medical treatment, diarrhea may also result from a virulent bacterial infection that can lead to serious complications including dehydration. According to MedlinePlus, you should call your doctor if you have blood or pus in your diarrhea, diarrhea with a fever of over 101 degrees, or symptoms of dehydration. Cases of diarrhea lasting longer than five days for adults and two days for children also require a doctor visit.

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