Pharmacists under the umbrella of Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria warn that ingestion of high doses of vitamin C can lead to insomnia, organ failure and, in extreme cases, death.
They warned that vitamin C is a poison, just like any other medication, hence the need to avoid random consumption as evident since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is involved in many bodily functions, including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, strengthening the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
It is mostly found in fresh fruits and vegetables, especially in citrus fruits like orange and grape.
The medication is considered as one of the 10 most sought-after drugs in states experiencing COVID-19, as recently published by PUNCH HealthWise.
According to PSN president, Sam Ohuabunwa, the medication seems to be receiving unusual attention, particularly because of its growing reputation for immune-boosting and wound repair.
“Because the body does not produce or store vitamin C, it is important to take it in the diet.
“While too much dietary vitamin C is unlikely to be harmful, mega doses of the drug may cause some health challenges.
“Normal dose is between 65-90mg per day for adults. But in times of sickness or in order to boost immunity (like in COVID-19), you may reach a maximum of 2000mg per day.
“Excess of this may lead to side effects such as nausea, vomiting, heartburn, abdominal cramps, headache and insomnia (difficulty to sleep),” Ohuabunwa said.
Speaking in the same vein, the National Chairman of Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Madu, said misuse of vitamin C or any other medicine has nothing to do with craving or compulsion.
The clinical pharmacist warned of dire consequence when more than the normal recommended dosage is consumed.
According to him, the normal recommended doses will depend on many factors such as age, pre-existing medical conditions and other factors.
“For example, diabetics are advised not to take more than 500mg vitamin C per day; otherwise, it can lead to false urinary glucose levels.
“Again, persons who are about to undergo amine occult blood tests should avoid vitamin C for about 72 hours before such a test in order to get reliable results.
“Most importantly, diabetic patients and persons with kidney problems can develop kidney stones if they take more than the recommended doses of vitamin C,” he said.