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How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much? Key Facts About Vitamin C Intake

How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much? Key Facts About Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C, less commonly known as L-ascorbic acid, is a natural and essential nutrient found in numerous fruits and vegetables. It is responsible for the synthesis of particular neurotransmitters, collagen, and L-carnitine, and it also helps mediate metabolism of proteins.

Neurotransmitters are chemical messengers that orchestrate the execution of vital functions such as motor behavior, memory, learning, mood and sleep to name a few. Collagen is a structural protein and one of the primary components of connective tissues and L-carnitine is an amino acid derivative  that plays a role in fat metabolism.

Moreover, within the body vitamin C operates as a key antioxidant which is able to govern the generation of additional antioxidants such as vitamin E, and can further help absorption of other nutrients, mainly iron. [1] Since humans are incapable of endogenously manufacturing this water-soluble vitamin, acquiring it through diet is necessary for certain imperative biological functions to occur.

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Can I take too much vitamin C?

While the importance of vitamin C intake may be fairly well-known, is there a limit to how much of this essential vitamin your body can handle?

Research says yes, and here’s why: as previously mentioned, vitamin C is water-soluble meaning it dissolves in water, and therefore is not stored in the body. [2] Rather, it is eliminated once excess amounts are reached, creating a false sense of comfort for ingesting too much vitamin C.

However, a recent study demonstrated the dangers of overdoing this nutrient. A team of British scientists conducted a study in which participants were administered more than 6 times the recommended daily dose for 6 weeks. They found that in such high doses vitamin C damaged DNA by converting iron stores into harmful ferrous iron which damages internal organs. [3]

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Beyond this, numerous studies dating back to the 70s have indicated a correlation between excessive vitamin C and damage of genetic material. Further, the department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University has highlighted the potentiality of excess nutrient intake to result in toxicity. [4]

What does too much vitamin C look like?

Now that it has been established it’s possible and harmful to ingest too much vitamin C, how do you know if you are exceeding appropriate doses?

The main indicator is gastrointestinal distress: nausea, indigestion, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting and upset stomach are a few examples of possible symptoms. [5] It also can manifest as hemochromatosis, hormone imbalances, kidney stones, and poor athletic performance. Hemochromatosis can be toxic and in severe cases result in organ failure, since it is the excessive production of iron in the body.

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Hormone disruption can interfere with the first stages of pregnancy increasing the probability of birth defects since vitamin C can inhibit release of certain sex hormones. Kidney stones are mineral deposits that form within the kidneys resulting in severe pain. In the process of vitamin C metabolism, some are converted into oxalate which promotes the development of kidney stones.

Furthermore, too much vitamin C has been shown to reduce endurance in athletes through inhibition of the body’s cellular alterations while exercising.

How much should I take?

So vitamin C is a critical nutrient but when taken in excess causes extreme discomfort and harmful symptoms, how much are you supposed to ingest? The Food and Nutrition Board generated a recommended intake chart based on age and gender. [6]

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Ultimately, the daily intake should be between 65 and 90 mg and harmful effects begin to appear with continued intake exceeding 500mg over long periods of time, and 2000mg for a single day.

How can I get vitamin C?

The best sources of vitamin C is through digestion of natural fruits and vegetables. Some primary examples and amount of vitamin C in 100g portion: [7]

  1. Strawberries: 58.8mg (98% of the daily value)
  2. Oranges: 53.2mg (89% of the daily value)
  3. Peppers: 183.5mg (306% of the daily value)
  4. Broccoli: 89.2mg (149% of the daily value)
  5. Papaya: 60.9mg (102% of the daily value)
  6. Lemon: 100mg (166% of the daily value)
  7. Kale: 120mg (200% of the daily value)
  8. Brussel sprouts: 85mg (142% of the daily value)
  9. Kiwi: 92.7mg (155% of the daily value)
  10. Peas: 60mg (100% of the daily value)

If cannot be consumed naturally, supplementation is available to meet the recommended daily dose.

Featured photo credit: servingjoy.com via servingjoy.com

Reference

[1] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
[2] http://www.consumerlab.com/answers/Is+it+possible+to+take+too+much+vitamin+C%3F/too_much_vitamin_c/
[3] http://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/09/us/taking-too-much-vitamin-c-can-be-dangerous-study-finds.html
[4] http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/nutrition-vitamins-11/fat-water-nutrient
[5] http://www.livestrong.com/article/499159-disadvantages-of-vitamin-c/
[6] https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminC-HealthProfessional/
[7] http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20745689,00.html

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Lindsay Benster

Student pursuing a degree in Behavioral Neuroscience at the University of San Diego

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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