Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)

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Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) Safety and Side Effects

Vitamin C is safe for most people when taken by mouth or applied to the skin. In some people, vitamin C might cause nausea, vomiting, heartburn, stomach cramps, headache, and other side effects. The chance of getting these side effects increases the more vitamin C you take. Doses higher than 2000 mg per day might not be safe and may cause a lot of side effects, including kidney stones and severe diarrhea. In people who have had a kidney stone, doses greater than 1000 mg per day greatly increase the risk of kidney stone recurrence.

Vitamin C is likely safe for pregnant or breast-feeding women when taken in the recommended amount of 120 mg per day. Taking too much vitamin C during pregnancy can cause problems for the newborn baby.

Do not take vitamin C in doses greater than those found in basic multivitamins if:

  • You have had a heart attack.
  • You have had angioplasty, a heart procedure.
  • You have cancer.
  • You have diabetes...

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What other names is Vitamin C (ascorbic Acid) known by?

Acide Ascorbique, Acide Cévitamique, Acide Iso-Ascorbique, Acide L-Ascorbique, Acido Ascorbico, Antiscorbutic Vitamin, Ascorbate, Ascorbate de Calcium, Ascorbate de Sodium, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Calcium Ascorbate, Cevitamic Acid, Iso-Ascorbic Acid, L-Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Ascorbate, Palmitate d'Ascorbyl, Selenium Ascorbate, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamina C, Vitamine Antiscorbutique, Vitamine C.

What is Vitamin C (ascorbic Acid)?

Vitamin C is a vitamin. Good sources of vitamin C are fresh fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits. It can also be made in a laboratory.

Effective for...

  • Treatment and prevention of vitamin C deficiency, including a condition called "scurvy."

Likely Effective for...

  • Improving the way the body absorbs iron.
  • Treating a disease called tyrosinemia in newborns.

Possibly Effective for...

  • Wrinkled skin.
  • Reducing the risk of certain cancers of the mouth and breast. This only works when fresh fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C are eaten, not with vitamin C supplements.
  • Treating the common cold. But it is not effective for preventing the common cold.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Reducing the risk of gallbladder disease.
  • Reducing the risk of bone and cartilage loss.
  • Helping medicines used for chest pain, such as nitroglycerin, to work longer.
  • Flushed looking skin (erythema).
  • Decreasing lung infections caused by heavy exercise.
  • Reducing the risk in women of a circulatory system disorder called peripheral arterial disease.
  • Preventing "hardening of the arteries" (atherosclerosis).
  • Preventing kidney problems related to contrast media used during angiography.
  • Treating ulcers in the stomach caused by bacteria called H. pylori.
  • Decreasing protein in the urine of people with type 2 diabetes (albuminuria).
  • Reducing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission by mothers to their newborns when taken with vitamins B and E.
  • Treating an eye disease called AMD (age-related macular degeneration) when used with other medicines.
  • Reducing complications after a broken wrist called complex regional pain syndrome, or reflex sympathetic dystrophy.
  • Reducing lead in the blood by eating foods high in vitamin C.
  • Reducing complications of a high risk pregnancy (pre-eclampsia).
  • Improving physical performance and strength in the elderly.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Preventing the common cold.
  • Reducing the risk of stroke.
  • Reducing the risk for Alzheimer's disease and other brain diseases causing intellectual loss.
  • Preventing eye disease associated with a medicine called interferon.
  • Treating bronchitis.
  • Reducing skin problems in people being treated for cancer with radiation.
  • Preventing pancreatic cancer.
  • Preventing prostate cancer.
  • Preventing type 2 diabetes.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Wounds, pressure sores, gout, tuberculosis, dental cavities, constipation, acne, allergies (hayfever), cystic fibrosis, infertility, diabetes, heart disease, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lowering cholesterol, kidney disease, liver disease, esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, mental stress, Lyme disease, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), treating and preventing sun-damaged skin when vitamin C is put on the skin, and other conditions.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).


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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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