Apple cider vinegar — or ACV for short — has a reputation as a health food with some serious perks. Overall, though, while ACV is a great addition to some meals, the evidence behind the ingredient as a treatment for medical conditions is shaky.
There is no official recommended amount of apple cider vinegar to drink or topically apply per day. However, there is some research that may provide an idea on how much ACV to use, depending on what benefit you're taking it for.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is sour, slightly sweet and kind of funky. Here's why: It's made by fermenting apple juice two times, and the end result creates acetic acid, according to Bragg, a company that makes ACV.
You can use ACV to make a homemade salad dressing, marinade or slaw, or use it in braising liquids or to give a hit of acidic brightness to dishes. Some people like to consume ACV — either by taking a straight shot or by mixing into a drink — for potential health perks, like blood sugar regulation and weight loss.
Apple Cider Vinegar Dosage
Most of the studies available on apple cider vinegar are small (and sometimes done on animals or in petri dishes rather than humans), and as a whole, more research is needed to determine the particular ACV dosage that's best. Therefore, we can't be sure that taking any amount of the vinegar will give you the specific result you're looking for.
Based on the research we have so far, though, here's what ACV dose has been touted for these particular benefits:
1. Aiding With Weight Loss
Dose: 1–2 Tablespoons
A healthy diet, sleep, physical activity and stress reduction remain the cornerstones of reaching and maintaining a healthy weight.
However, research from August 2009 in Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry indicates that drinking ½ to 1 ounce (1 to 2 tablespoons) of apple vinegar mixed with 2 cups of water may help with slight weight loss. Participants in that study who drank the highest amounts of ACV lost about 4 more pounds over the course of 12 weeks than a placebo group.
ACV may reduce hunger, according to an April 2018 Journal of Functional Foods study, which found that the best dose for weight and body fat loss was 2 tablespoons (for people who have overweight or obesity). In that study, people consumed 1 tablespoon of ACV with a salad at lunch and 1 tablespoon at dinner. (The catch: Both the apple cider vinegar and control groups were on a reduced-calorie diet. While weight loss was better in the ACV group compared to the control, the fact remains that both were cutting calories, which we know leads to weight loss.)
2. Regulating Blood Sugar
Dose: About 1 Tablespoon
There's some suggestion that pairing ACV with meals may help blunt the blood sugar response that occurs after eating, according to a small October 2013 study in the Journal of Functional Foods. The dose used in the study? A measly 750 mg of acetic acid (less than a dropper's worth).
Remember, though, that's pure acetic acid. ACV is about 5 to 6 percent acetic acid, according to an article in MedGenMed, so you'd have to consume a bigger dose of ACV — at least a tablespoon or so — to get that amount of acetic acid.
There is no apple cider vinegar dosage for diabetes. Do not use ACV in place of diabetes medication.
3. Improving Cholesterol
Dose: 1 1/2 Tablespoons
There's scant research in this area, but the Journal of Functional Foods study above indicates that 1 1/2 tablespoons of ACV daily for 12 weeks also helped participants lower their triglycerides and overall cholesterol, while raising levels of "HDL" cholesterol better than the control group.
4. Treating Eczema
Dose: 2 Cups, Diluted
There is a theoretical ideal that topical application of ACV can restore the skin's natural pH, thereby improving the skin barrier's integrity, per the National Eczema Association.
The organization recommends first talking to your dermatologist before trying topical ACV on affected skin. If you have the green light, soak in a full tub of lukewarm water mixed with 2 cups of ACV for15 to 20 minutes. Remember to rinse your skin thoroughly with cool water afterward and then apply a gentle moisturizer.
5. Improving Scalp Health
Dose: 1/2 Cup, Diluted
There is no scientific evidence behind ACV as a treatment for dandruff. However, you can use it as a DIY clarifying hair rinse, which may help relieve irritation and itch, according to the UC Berkeley School of Public Health. Combine 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar with 1 1/2 cups water and pour through hair following your normal shampoo.
What About ACV for Digestion?
There is no research to support that apple cider vinegar helps with digestion, so there's no recommended dosage for this benefit.
Dangers of Apple Cider Vinegar
Keep in mind that there are some risks of apple cider vinegar, including:
1. Damage to Enamel
The acid in apple cider vinegar may lead to the erosion of tooth enamel, according to the American Dental Association. The organization recommends against using vinegar as a teeth-whitener.
If you're drinking ACV daily, be sure to rinse your mouth with water afterward and brush regularly.
2. Throat Irritation
The acidity of ACV can also lead to throat irritation if you drink a lot of it or consume it frequently, per the Mayo Clinic.
3. Low Potassium Levels
Taking ACV has the potential to lower potassium levels, according to Northwell Health. This can also happen as the result of interactions with supplements or medications, per the Mayo Clinic.
4. Skin Irritation
Placing apple cider vinegar directly on the skin can lead to burns, per the National Capital Poison Center. And, as seen above, it can also cause irritation when applied directly to the skin, so make sure to properly dilute it with water before using topically.
—Additional reporting by Madeleine H. Burry
Is This an Emergency?
- Bragg: “FAQ.”
- Journal of Food Science and Technology: “Vinegar production from fruit concentrates: effect on volatile composition and antioxidant activity.”
- International Journal of Food Microbiology: “Effectiveness of household natural sanitizers in the elimination of Salmonells typhimurium on rocket (Eruca sativa Miller) and spring onion (Allium cepa L.)”
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Lettuce, Other Leafy Greens, and Food Safety.”
- Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry: “Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects.”
- Journal of Functional Foods: “Beneficial Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, visceral adiposity index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial.”
- Journal of Functional Foods: “Vinegar ingestion at mealtime reduced fasting blood glucose concentrations in healthy adults at risk for type 2 diabetes.”
- MedGenMed: “Vinegar: Medicinal Uses and Antiglycemic Effect.”
- National Eczema Association: “Get the Facts: Apple Cider Vinegar.”
- UC Berkeley School of Public Health: "Do It Yourself Beauty Recipes"
- National Capital Poison Center: "Vinegar"
- American Dental Association: "Natural Teeth Whitening: Fact vs. Fiction"
- Northwell Health: "What are the benefits of apple cider vinegar?"
- Mayo Clinic: "Drinking apple cider vinegar for weight loss seems far-fetched. Does it work?"