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Does Vitamin C cause bloating?

Posted 5 years ago by Guest Author

Taking a Vitamin C supplement is a popular choice at this time of year, and many people do so to help prevent, and to aid recovery from, colds. Here I aim to explore Vitamin C, its uses, the potential for bloating and what we can do to reduce it.

Does Vitamin C cause bloating?

Vitamin C, found in citrus fruit, may help to support the immune system...but can it cause bloating?

Does Vitamin C cause bloating?

Yes, some studies and anecdotal evidence has indicated that Vitamin C at high (and possibly therapeutic doses) may cause bloating and digestive discomfort.  It is believed that bloating and digestive discomfort can occur due to the body excreting water from your kidneys in order to dilute it for excretion. These negative effects are unpleasant but are generally harmless and should resolve on their own. As bloating is thought to be triggered by exceeding the recommended dose for your body, bloating should be reduced if you take a lower dose.

Why Vitamin C?

Vitamin C acts as a potent antioxidant, which means it mops up damaging free radicals and also has anti-inflammatory properties. It was originally favoured for its anti-scurvy properties but today the focus is more on its cell protection abilities.  It plays a key role in growth and repair of tissue cells in the body as well as connective tissue, and it is required for healthy gums, blood vessels, bones and teeth.

Linus Pauling, a leading Nobel Prize winning Amercian scientist from the last century, advocated the use of high doses of Vitamin C for its ability to cure heart disease, cancer and infections. More recent studies carried out on Vitamin C have been controversial, and a new scientific theory called the dynamic flow model, explains all the observed responses to vitamin C in the literature. According to the model, people should ideally be in a state of dynamic flow, which means they should ingest more vitamin C than they need, in the form of divided dose supplements. The extra Vitamin C flows through the body and is excreted in the urine. It is not wasted, however, as the excess acts as a reservoir when extra vitamin C is required.

Fruit pouring onto spoon

Vitamin C, in fruit and vegetables and as a supplement, acts as an antioxidant in the body

So, how much Vitamin C should I take?

The current RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 60mg per day, but dosages up to 2000mg per day are considered safe. In some people, such as smokers, those taking the Oral Contraceptive Pill or those experiencing particular stress, may require more than others.

In one study carried out in 1999, the test group were treated with hourly doses of 1000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Overall, reported flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased 85% compared with the control group after the administration of the mega dose Vitamin C. Other studies have been carried out with differing results however. As always, everyone is different and what benefits one person may not benefit the next.

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin, which means that as the body is unable to store it we therefore need to take it on a regular basis in order to maintain our levels. This also means that it is relatively safe to take in higher doses as the body is able to eliminate it in urine. Higher doses may well cause digestive symptoms however.

It may be helpful to take a probiotic supplement alongside your Vitamin C supplement to help reduce symptoms of bloating and abdominal discomfort. 

Which Vitamin C shall I choose?

Vitamin C is available in a number of different varieties (such as Bioflavanoids, Mineral Ascorbates etc), some of which may be more suitable than others and less likely to cause digestive problems. Everyone is unique and what suits one person may not work for the next, but it is believed that Ester-C (Ascorbates mixed with Vitamin C metabolites) is more bio-available, and more easily absorbed by the body which may be less likely to cause bloating.

Vitamin C pills

Vitamin C comes in several different types, some more less likely to cause bloating than others 

Immune Boosting alternatives

If you find that your body really doesn’t suit taking a Vitamin C supplement, there are several other immune boosting alternatives you could try. See the list below for natural health alternatives.

Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetables -  Vitamin C is found in a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. Good sources include carrots, oranges, red and green peppers, berries, broccoli and other green leafy vegetables.

Echinacea – a plant belonging to the daisy family, and is popularly believed to stimulate the body’s immune system and fight infection.


Echinacea is a traditional immune boosting remedy

Elderberry - Black elderberry has been traditionally used for hundreds of years. Some preliminary studies indicate that elderberry may have a beneficial effect in treating the flu, relieving allergies, and boosting overall respiratory health.

Probiotics – around 70% of our immune system is based in our gut, so by supporting your levels of beneficial bacteria you can help fight off unwanted bugs and bacteria. Probiotics can also be effective to help reduce bloating - you can read more here.

Click here if you would like to read about other natural remedies for bloating. 

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