The Effects of Emergen-C

Emergen-C is a powdered drink mix containing a variety of vitamins and minerals. Even though Emergen-C vitamin C packets are sold over the counter and are generally safe, side effects such as gastrointestinal problems, gluten reactions, poor drug interactions and allergic reactions could occur. For these reasons, it's important to talk with your doctor about Emergen-C before you start using it for the first time.

The Effects of Emergen-C (Image: Detry26/iStock/GettyImages)

Improved Immune Health

One of the most notable vitamins in Emergen-C is vitamin C. In general, a high vitamin C intake hasn't been proven to minimize your chances of getting sick, although it could shorten the duration of a cold. Each dose of Emergen-C gives you over 1,600 percent of the daily recommendation of vitamin C. Emergen-C even provides one-fourth of your requirement for zinc, a mineral that helps your immune system work at its best.

Steady Energy Levels

Emergen-C contains B vitamins, including 25 percent of your daily value of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid, per dose. Each portion has over 415 percent of your B-12 needs and 500 percent of your B-6 requirement for the day, according to Vitacost. The B vitamins are essential for helping the body process foods for energy. B-12 and B-6 have major roles in producing red blood cells, which carry oxygen to every part of your body.

Electrolyte Replenishment

If you're sick with a flu, have diarrhea or work out extensively and sweat a lot, you'll lose electrolytes. Your heart functions, muscle movements and nerve transmissions all rely on these minerals that carry electrical charges. Electrolytes keep you properly hydrated by balancing fluid levels in your body. A serving of Emergen-C can help replenish some of the electrolytes in your system. You'll get small doses of multiple electrolytes, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium, from a dose of Emergen-C.

Potential Side Effects

Emergen-C could cause belly cramping, diarrhea and nausea. These effects stem from the extremely high dosage of vitamin C in the supplement. Emergen-C doesn't contain grain, and is labelled gluten free, so if you have celiac disease or are gluten-intolerant, this product will not cause a reaction. Additionally, Emergen-C health warning concerns possible interactions with prescription medications and over the counter drugs, such as Tetracyclines—Divalent & Trivalent, so check with your doctor before taking it if you're on medications. If you have hives, rashes, swelling or difficulty breathing after taking Emergen-C, seek emergency care right away.

How Emergen-C Affects Kidneys

Vitamin C is water soluble and is processed through the kidneys. The excess vitamin C is turned into oxalate, which are normally excreted in urine. Consuming the high dosage of vitamin C found in Emergen-C over a long period of time has the potential to cause oxalate to accumulate putting you at risk for developing kidney stones. A cohort study researched the association between vitamin C supplement use and kidney stones, using a 1000 mg dosage. The results, published in JAMA International Medicine in 2013, indicated that men taking vitamin C supplements were at twice the risk of developing kidney stones as those that did not. The advice from the study was that high-dose vitamin C supplements be avoided, especially if you have a history of kidney stones.

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