Can vitamin C cause IBS symptoms?
Ever since the Coronavirus happened, people have been running to the pharmacy to get vitamins to support their immune system. Also, IBS symptoms have spiked for a lot of these people. The spike in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) symptoms can definitely be related to an increase in stress en less physical activity. But could the increased intake of vitamins, and especially vitamin C, also play a role?
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that is present in vegetables and fruits.
Nowadays a low intake of vitamin C is hardly ever seen anymore. Because vitamin C is present in many foods, and also added to many foods.
Sometimes a case of vitamin C deficiency is seen, and it will show itself after 1-3 months of very little intake of vitamin C.
Vitamin C deficiency leads to scurvy which shows itself with bleeding gums, feeling tired and easy bruising.
Vitamin C is often associated with a better immune system but an impairment of immune function is seen with a vitamin C deficiency. The prevention of a vitamin C deficiency will make sure your immune system will not suffer impairment.
How Much Vitamin C Do I Need?
The vitamin C side effects
Intake of high doses of vitamin C, more than 1500 mg, can lead to nausea, diarrhea, stomach aches and other gastrointestinal symptoms. As you can see, these symptoms are very similar to IBS symptoms
High doses of vitamin C, lead to malabsorption of vitamin C. An intake of 30-180 mg per day has a 70-90% absorption, but intakes above 1000 mg a day only has a 50% absorption. The unabsorbed vitamin C will remain in the intestines and attract fluids. Which in turn can lead to diarrhea and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Apart from the malabsorption of vitamin C, many supplements contain added sweeteners. When a vitamin C supplement is supposed to be dissolved in water to drink it, it contains sweeteners and flavorings. These sweeteners have also shown to reduce the diversity of the gut microbiome and attract water to the intestines.
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How to Get Enough Vitamin C Without Taking a Supplement?
As mentioned, vitamin C is present in many foods. Most vegetables and fruits have relatively high amounts of vitamin C.
The one thing to be mindful of is that vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Boiling the products will make the vitamin C leak out of it, reducing the amount of vitamin C that is present when you eat it.
Apart from that, vitamin C is sensitive to heat and daylight. That’s why it’s best to immediately consume a product that has vitamin C in it because the amount of vitamin C will reduce over time.
To give you an idea of the vitamin C amounts in products I will give you some numbers. Remember that the RDI is 75 mg.
– kiwi (75g) = 59 mg vitamin C
– 1 orange (130g) = 66 mg vitamin C
– 1 raw tomato (100g) = 15 mg vitamin C
– 2 boiled and peeled potatoes (100g) = 9 mg vitamin C
– 100 grams of red bell pepper = 150 mg vitamin C
– 100 grams of green bell pepper = 71 mg vitamin C
– 100 grams of boiled broccoli = 38 mg vitamin C
Reaching the RDI of 75 mg doesn’t seem too difficult now, does it? In general I would always advise you to try and get your nutrients from healthy nutrition and not from supplements. The whole products have so much more to offer than just the vitamins and the whole package of healthy foods will add so much more in terms of general health!
So let me know, are you taking your vitamin C as a supplement? Or are you aiming for a healthy intake through nutrition, and prevent IBS symptoms this way? Let me know in a comment below!
Hi there, I’m Manon.
In my daily life I work as a registered dietitian in the Netherlands with a special interest in gut health.
During my workday I get loads of questions about healthy food, recipes and lifestyle to make it a little easier to get healthy. On Positive Gut I collect my best recommendations, tips and recipes to make your healthy lifestyle a little easier!