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One Major Effect Vitamin C Has On Your Gut, Says Science

This vitamin may have more benefits than just boosting your immune system.
FACT CHECKED BY Kiersten Hickman

Most of us know vitamin C as a popular cold remedy. However, boosting your immune system isn't the only way your body can benefit from vitamin C. It actually helps you in ways you may not yet realize. The antioxidant power of vitamin C helps to reduce your risk of cancer and other serious diseases, as well as boost collagen levels and help prevent vision loss. And in the last few years, more key studies have found that vitamin c is also linked to gut health.

One of the major effects vitamin C has on your gut is helping to maintain a balance between good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome. Here's why, and for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.

A little bit about vitamin C

According to the Mayo Clinic, you need vitamin C for healing and forming vital parts of your body like muscles, cartilage, collagen, and blood vessels. This essential vitamin has also been proven to help reduce the negative effects of free radicals in your body—which are known to lead to heart disease and cancer.

Because your body can't naturally make vitamin C on its own, it needs to get it from food or supplements. Some common vitamin C-rich foods are oranges, kiwis, strawberries, kale, Brussels sprouts, and bell peppers.

It is recommended that adult women get around 75 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and adult men about 90 milligrams. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, this number increases to between 85 to 120 milligrams a day.

How vitamin C can help your gut

vitamin c

A 2019 study published in Redox Biology found that vitamin C can be used to improve your gut barrier function, which helps your body absorb nutrients and protect you from certain toxins.

Along with improving your gut barrier, vitamin C has been known to help balance out the good and bad bacteria inside your gut. According to Gut Microbes, vitamin C had the most significant impact on gut health compared to vitamins B and D and was proven to help increase microbial diversity, which is necessary for maintaining a healthy gut.

Although vitamin C has positive effects on your gut health, you may experience some uncomfortable digestive issues if you take too much.

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How too much vitamin C can affect your gut

According to the National Institute of Health, excessive amounts of vitamin C can cause gut-related issues like diarrhea, cramps, and nausea, which occur because of the way your gastrointestinal tract reacts to the unabsorbed (or excess) vitamin C.

Although these side effects are uncomfortable, it takes quite a bit of vitamin C to reach this point. The NIH says the tolerable upper limit for adults is 2,000 milligrams a day, which is almost impossible to reach with just foods containing vitamin C.

Although you most likely won't reach 2,000 milligrams with your daily food, you may accidentally take too many vitamin C supplements. For example, there are 1,000 milligrams in a Nature Made Vitamin C tablet, so taking more than one per day could potentially lead to some of these unwanted digestive issues.

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Samantha Boesch
Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha