Ascorbic Acid & Vitamin C Allergies

Ascorbic acid and vitamin C are similar in chemical composition and are therefore classified by the FDA as the same substance. Ascorbic acid does contain very similar components but lacks some other nutrients found in naturally occurring vitamin C found in foods. If you are allergic to ascorbic acid and vitamin C, you will only experience an allergic reaction when you take supplements. Vitamin C in its natural state will not cause an allergic reaction. Because most supplements are synthetic, your immune system may not recognize the substance and attack it, causing an allergic reaction.

Vitamin C naturally occurs in citrus fruits. (Image: SEKTOR52/iStock/Getty Images)

Ascorbic Acid and Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid and vitamin C are not stored by the body. When you ingest the supplement, the portion of the substance that's not used by the body is expelled through your urine. Vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of soft tissue. It is also a natural antioxidant, eliminating free radical cells from your body, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Free radical cells promote disease and mutation. Vitamin C naturally occurs in citrus fruits and leafy green vegetables. If you develop adverse reactions after taking the supplement, discontinue use and call your doctor.

Allergic Reaction

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America defines an allergy as an overreaction of the immune system to a foreign substance. Even though your immune system may recognize naturally occurring vitamin C in foods, taking a synthetic supplement may not be recognized. If your immune system accidentally identifies the synthetic supplement as a threat to the body, the immune system will produce various chemicals to defend the body. This can cause various symptoms that can affect your breathing, cardiovascular system and skin.

Common Symptoms

Shortly after taking a vitamin C supplement or a beverage that contains ascorbic acid, such as fortified juices, you may develop asthma, headaches, itching, fatigue, skin rashes, runny nose, sniffling, wheezing and congestion, according to Tree.com. Common skin reactions include hives, eczema and general skin itching. You may develop itching, tingling or burning in your mouth or swelling in your face, lips or throat, and you could lose your ability to breathe normally.

Treatment

If you're diagnosed with an allergy to synthetic vitamin C, avoid the consumption of products that contain this ingredient. If you accidentally ingest synthetic vitamin C, you will need to call your doctor. Minor allergic reactions may be treated with antihistamines, while severe allergic reactions may require an injection of epinephrine.

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