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April 7, 2017

By L. Carr,  Contributing Columnist

How much vitamin C do you really need? You might think
you know, but are you certain? Since vitamin C is essential
for many complex bodily process including boosting the
immune system and acting as an antioxidant, and our
bodies can neither make nor store vitamin C, it makes
sense to get the optimum amounts each day. But how

The U.S. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of
Medicine says men should have a minimum of 90mg of
vitamin C daily and women should have 75mg a day, with
an upper limit of 2,000mg a day. But this is a large range
and everyone is different. One way of determining your
own daily requirement is with a vitamin C flush.

The vitamin C flush is a means of increasing your intake of
vitamin C (ascorbic acid) until the toxins are flushed out in
the stool. It sounds quite unpleasant, but aside from the
diarrhea issues is there anything dangerous about the
vitamin C flush? Is it something you should do, or avoid?

What Are the Benefits of a Vitamin C Flush?

A vitamin C flush allows you to see how much vitamin C
you need each day or the optimum level of ascorbic acid
you need from supplements. Since you can’t store vitamin
C in the body it helps you get levels right.

Some people like to do a vitamin C flush once a month or
every couple of weeks for a detox cleanse, although the
medical benefits of this are far from certain.

How Do You Do a Vitamin C Flush?

Begin the vitamin C flush on an empty stomach, before
breakfast in the morning. Put ½ tsp. of vitamin C (also
called ascorbic acid) in powder form into a glass with 2 oz.
of water; this is a dose of 1.5mg of vitamin C.  

By the way, most practitioners of vitamin C flushes
recommend that you use "l-ascorbate" and not products
labeled merely "ascorbic acid".

Drink the dissolved powder and do something else for 15
minutes while waiting. If nothing happens, repeat the
dose. Wait 15 minutes.

Repeat the steps until you need to go to the bathroom and
pass a diarrhea-like, watery stool.

You need to have written down how much vitamin C you
take before you reach this stage. Half of this amount
divided by three and taken in the morning, afternoon, and
evening will give you the maximum benefits from the
vitamin, according to proponents of this flush.

What Are the Dangers of a Vitamin C Flush?

During the vitamin C flush you consume a lot of vitamin C.
While vitamin C is considered safe at the amounts you
normally get in food or in a supplement, at high levels it
can be dangerous for some people.

Side effects of too much vitamin C include diarrhea, chest
pain, abdominal cramps, headache, heart burn, and
digestive problems.

Vitamin C has resulted in copper deficiency in guinea pigs,
according to a 1980 study from Milne DB and Omaye ST.
But how vitamin C affects absorption of copper in humans
is less clear – studies have not shown vitamin C to
adversely affect copper absorption.

More serious problems associated with high doses of the
vitamin include heart-related death, kidney stones,
digestive system problems, and blood clotting.

High doses of vitamin C, as experienced through a vitamin
C flush, may also interfere with certain medications, and it
can affect blood sugar levels so people with diabetes
should exercise caution with a vitamin C flush.  Vitamin C
may increase blood pressure.

If you are thinking of doing a vitamin C flush, consider
these reasons why the flush might not be such a great idea.

High Levels of Vitamin C in a Flush May Cause Kidney

Some experts say that long-term ingestion of high levels of
vitamin C may result in kidney stones. However, many
studies show that there is no increased risk for most
people who consume a lot of vitamin C.

But for some individuals it could be a problem. For
example, people with a history of kidney stones, or those
with kidney failure, according to a 1998 study from the
University of Cape Town in South Africa.

People with a history of kidney stones should not take
more than 100mg of vitamin C a day, which in many cases
would rule out a vitamin C flush.

A Vitamin C Flush Affects Iron Intake

Too much vitamin C from a vitamin C flush can increase
your absorption of iron, according to a 1991 study from
Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge. I

t is not a good idea to have more iron than you need, so if
you are doing a vitamin C flush you should not take iron
supplements at the same time.

Vitamin C Flushes Cause Tylenol Toxicity?

One study from 1976 by Houston JB and Levy G says that
high doses of vitamin C, for example those taken in a
vitamin C flush, can increase the levels of acetaminophen
(Tylenol, or similar) in your body.

The study looked at five people. In theory this could result
in toxicity if you regularly take acetaminophen and do a
vitamin C flush at the same time where you ingest high
levels of vitamin C. It is worth watching out for.

Doing a Vitamin C Flush May Affect Warfarin

If you are taking warfarin for its blood-thinning benefits, it
is not advisable to do a vitamin C flush.

High levels of vitamin C have been linked with a reduction
in the drug’s effect, according to studies such as a 1995
report from the University of Kansas Medical Center,
Kansas City. It is weak evidence but doctors wouldn’t
recommend the mix.

The Blood Pressure Effects of a Vitamin C Flush

Do high levels of vitamin C cause high blood pressure?
There is conflicting evidence on this question.

One study does show a link between increased blood
pressure and vitamin C, but with the added input of grape-
seed polyphenols.

The 2005 study from the University of Western Australia
and West Australian Institute for Medical Research
(WAIMR), Perth, Australia demonstrated that a
combination of vitamin C and grape-seed polyphenols
increased blood pressure.

But, here's the interesting thing: vitamin C on its own
decreased blood pressure.

The study looked at 69 people with high blood pressure
who took 500mg of vitamin C a day with or without
1000mg of grape-seed polyphenols.

Doing a Vitamin C Flush May Result in Kidney Failure

In some rare cases, the high levels of vitamin C consumed
during a vitamin C flush can result in acute renal failure –
which has proved to be fatal.

In a 2008 study by Palmerston North Hospital in New
Zealand a patient with kidney problems did not tell doctors
about his high-dose vitamin C supplementation and this
proved to have fatal effects.

A Vitamin C Flush Can Affect HIV Medications

High levels of vitamin C can affect the effectiveness of the
drug indinavir, which treats the HIV infection, according to
a 2003 study by West Virginia University. The study looked
at seven patients.

As always, it is not a good idea to take large quantities of
vitamin C without consulting a doctor, if you are taking
any other drugs.

Related Links:

Top 9 Foods Men Should Avoid
It's nearly impossible to get the
amount of Vitamin C your body
needs for optimal health simply
from food, some experts say.
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