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Too Much Vitamin C?

Jayson Kroner

In 1935, a product was introduced that completely shocked and outraged the health and medical industries. It didn't take long to gain national attention, and was commonly referred to as dangerous and toxic. Needless to say, the first 60-mg Vitamin C tablet took a bit of warming up to.

A lot has changed in the past 70 years, and as the popularity of Vitamin C continues to escalate, there seems to be more and more confusion regarding how much of it we should be taking. The topic has sparked so much confusion in fact, that if you were to fill a room with 20 nutritional experts, you'd more than likely find yourself contemplating 20 different answers. One thing that most experts can agree on, is that the recommended daily allowances set by the Food and Drug Administration are frighteningly low. As it stands today, the current RDA for vitamin C in healthy adults is a mere 60-mg. A bit of history -- this is based on how much vitamin C a healthy adult would needed at the time to avoid scurvy. Go figure.

And while this robust 60-mg dose may provide enough ascorbic acid to maintain life on a sofa, the active lifestyles of today's average adult constantly demonstrates the need for more of this life-essential nutrient. As a result, the FDA is currently re-working their RDA guidelines to better suit these more demanding needs.

Think 60-mg sounds low? So did Linus Pauling. Before his death in 1994 at the age of 93, this Nobel Prize-winning chemist openly admitted to using between 10-18 grams (10,000 and 18,000 mg) of vitamin C on a frequent basis. His book, "Vitamin C and the Common Cold" changed the face of vitamin C supplementation, and earned him a place in history when he was named one of the 20 most important scientists alive by the British journal New Scientist.

So just how much is safe to take? Most experts agree that between 1-3 grams (1,000-3,000 mg) per day is safe and healthy for most active adults. But like anything else, these demands vary from person to person. Fortunately, our bodies are not shy in letting us know when we've been consuming too much C. Mild diarrhea is a common sign that the body can't keep up with the dose you're taking. If that happens, cut back a bit. Your fellow trainers will thank you. 

Health Disclaimer. Content provided by NOW Foods. Copyright 2005-2019. Published with permission. Jayson Kroner is a health and fitness journalist, a certified sports nutritionist, and co-author of the book "7-Syndrome Healing."