Can I Take Too Much Vitamin C

QUESTION

Dear Nutritionist,
I'm 6½ weeks pregnant. Is there such a thing as too much vitamin C in early (or later) pregnancy? I often take "Emergen -- C" packets to ward off colds, and don't want to do so if it will harm the baby.
Margaret

ANSWER

Hello Margaret,
Congratulations! First I need to state that it is essential to check with your doctor and make her/him aware of ANY supplement(s) you are taking! In addition, double check to make sure the supplement in question does not have other added ingredients such as herbals or other vitamins that could be harmful during pregnancy!

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and most of the time does not pose a risk. However, more of something does not always mean better protection. The RDA for vitamin C during pregnancy is 85 milligrams per day, which is just a little bit higher than that for non-pregnant women.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin C (established by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences) is 2,000 milligrams per day. The UL represents the maximum intake that probably will not pose any health risks for almost all healthy people. So in other words, you don't want to go over the 2,000 mg level. Keep in mind that your prenatal vitamin supplement probably contains vitamin C also.

The best advice is to speak with your doctor before taking any supplement. Your doctor will know best whether taking extra vitamin C is safe for YOU. Keep in mind that taking other precautions such as washing your hands, drinking lots of fluid, exercising regularly (with your doctor's permission), and eating a healthy well-balanced diet can also help to lower your risk of those pesky winter colds!

-- Kimberly, RD LD

Kimberly Tessmer

Kimberly A. Tessmer, RD LD has been a registered dietitian since 1992 and is also an Ohio licensed Dietitian. Her educational achievements include a Bachelor of Science in Technology (Dietetics) from Bowling State University in Bowling Green, OH. She currently owns and operates a consulting business called "Nutrition Focus" www.nutrifocus.net, in which she specializes and offers services in the areas of weight management, general nutrition, authoring, menu development and a variety of other services.

To date Kim has authored three books including "The Everything® Nutrition Book", "Tell Me What To Eat If I Have Celiac Disease", and "The Everything® Pregnancy Nutrition Book". In addition, Kim has written numerous articles for various health/nutrition web sites and magazines including Bally Total Fitness Magazine, Well and Healthy Women Magazine and Healthology.com, Inc as well as continuing education courses for www.care2learn.com. She is a member of the American Dietetic Association and the ADA Practice Group, Nutrition Entrepreneurs.