How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much?


It’s generally accepted that a healthy dose of vitamin C can help ward off colds. But just how much is enough?

 Man is does not manufacture its own supply of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid.

However, a 154-pound man would need to produce between 1.75 and 3.50 grams per day to keep up with the other animals.

There are experts who feel that taking more than 140 milligrams per day of this vitamin is wasteful because, for many people, more than this amount results in urine containing the vitamin—“Expensive Urine.”

The results of a test involving 88 patients, half being schizophrenic, are reported in Dr. Linus Pauling’s book How to live Longer and Feel Better.

Each was given 1.75 grams of vitamin C by mouth. During the following 6 hours each patient’s urine was collected and then analyzed. The amounts excreted varied from 2 percent to 40 percent of the amount ingested. The mental patients excreted about 60 percent less than the others.

Incidentally, excreted vitamin C is not a complete loss. According to Dr. Pauling, it protects against urinary tract infections.

Large doses can have a laxative effect causing looseness of the bowel. This is said to be greater when the vitamin is taken on an empty stomach.

Dr. Pauling recommended using this laxative effect to reduce chances of developing colon cancer. Additionally, the vitamin appears to be most effective in fighting disease when the dose is close to the bowel tolerance limit.

It is notable that Dr. Pauling’s interest in vitamin C was sparked by his observation that he and his wife experienced a striking decrease in the number and severity of colds after they started taking large quantities of it.

However, physicians experienced with this therapy recommend intakes near the bowel tolerance limit, said to be between 4 and 15 grams per day for people in good health.

Dr. Irwin Stone, a pioneer in the use of vitamin C, recommended taking 1.5 to 2 grams by mouth at the first sign of a cold and repeating the dose at 20 to 30 minute intervals until symptoms disappeared. He said this usually happened by the third dose.

There are many references in the scientific literature attesting to the efficacy of vitamin C in wound healing.

It is interesting to note that your bones are made up of layers of collagen and the mineral apatite which together form a matrix of semiconductors. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that vitamin C is also of value in maintaining the integrity of your skeleton.


There are those who say that large quantities of vitamin C are poisonous.

Dr. Pauling reported that he took 18 grams of it every day and he lived to be over 90.

Dr. Joel Wallach has stated that there are 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids that your body requires in order to prevent dietary deficiency diseases.

Depression is the most frequently searched-for topic at

Rather than give a synthetic drug to block or mimic the body's chemical nerve messengers (neurotransmitters), it is possible nutritionally to encourage the body to make its own natural ones.

A depletion of the neurotransmitter called norepinephrine may result in poor memory, loss of alertness, and clinical depression. The chain of chemical events in the body resulting in this substance is:

L-phenylalanine (from protein foods) -> L-tyrosine (made in the liver) -> dopa -> dopamine -> norepinephrine -> epinephrine

This process looks complex but actually is readily accomplished, particularly if the body has plenty of vitamin C. Since one's dietary supply of the first ingredient, L-phenylalanine, is usually adequate, it is more likely to be a shortage of vitamin C that limits production of norepinephrine. Physicians giving large doses of vitamin C have had striking success in reversing depression. It is a remarkably safe and inexpensive approach to try.

Acetylcholine is the end neurotransmitter of your parasympathetic nerve system. This means that, among other things, it facilitates good digestion, deeper breathing, and slower heart rate. You may perceive its effect as "relaxation."

Your body will make its own acetylcholine from choline. Choline is available in the diet as phosphatidyl choline, found in lecithin.

Lecithin is found in egg yolks and most soy products. Three tablespoons daily of soya lecithin granules provide about five grams (5,000 milligrams) of phosphatidyl choline.

In fact,  brain by dry weight is almost one-third lecithin. In Geriatrics, July 1979, lecithin is considered as a therapy to combat memory loss. Studies at MIT show increases in both choline and acetylcholine in the brains of animals after just one lecithin meal! Supplemental choline has even shown promise in treating Alzheimer's Disease. (Today's Living, February, 1982). It also contains the valuable fish-oil-like, omega-3 linolenic acid.

Beef and sheep brains are also an excellent source of lecithin.

Probably the best way to get a lot of lecithin easily is to take lecithin GRANULES. Stir the granules quickly into juice or milk. They won't dissolve, but rather will drift about as you drink. Lecithin granules can also be used as a topping on any cold food. Ice cream comes to mind. Also, they are not bad if stirred into yogurt. If you put lecithin granules on hot food, they will melt and you will then have liquid lecithin.

All supplemental forms of lecithin are made from soy beans. An alternate non-soy source is egg yolk. Generally, maximum benefit is obtained when you eat the yolk lightly cooked (such as in a soft-boiled egg).

Before the FDA temporarily removed all tryptophan supplements from the market due to a now-corrected, industrial manufacturing error, millions of people had safely taken regular suppertime doses of this amino acid, usually 500–2,000 mg, to help them sleep. Inside you, tryptophan is broken down into anxiety-reducing, snooze-inducing niacin. Even more important, tryptophan is also made into serotonin, one of your body's most important neurotransmitters. Serotonin is responsible for feelings of well-being and mellowness. This is such a profound effect that Prozac, Paxil, and similar antidepressants artificially keep the body's own serotonin levels high. You can do the same thing naturally through diet. And no one can tell us that beans, peas, cheese, nuts, sunflower seeds, and good ol’ wheat germ are toxic if you eat a lot of them!

Plenty of carbohydrates in your meals helps tryptophan get to where it does the most good: your brain.

Cheese and crackers provides a better effect than the cheese standing alone. Poultry, especially the dark meat, is a rich source of tryptophan. Add potatoes or stuffing, you can stay vegetarian and still get tanked up on tryptophan.

Consider that five servings of beans, a few portions of cheese or peanut butter, or several handfuls of cashews provide 1,000–2,000 mg of tryptophan, which will work as well as prescription antidepressants.

Tryptophan is one of the ten essential amino acids you need to stay alive. It is by law added to liquid feedings for the elderly and all infant formulas.

Foods High in the Amino Acid L-Tryptophan

(In milligrams per 100-gram (3.5 ounce) portion, about the size of a deck of playing cards. That is not a large serving, and in a single meal you might easily double or triple the figures listed here.)

Lentils 215
Dried peas 250 
Navy 200 
Pinto 210 
Red kidney 215 
Soy 525

Nuts and Seeds 
Brazil nuts 185
Cashews 470 
Filberts 210 
Peanuts 340 
Peanut butter 330 (natural, not commercial) 
Pumpkin seeds 560 
Sesame seeds 330

Tahini (ground sesame seeds) 575

Sunflower seeds 340

Other nuts generally provide at least 130 mg per small serving; usually more.

Wheat germ 265

Cheddar 340
Parmesan 490 
Swiss 375

Other cheeses tend to be lower in tryptophan, but are still very good sources.

Eggs 210

Poultry 250

Brewer's Yeast 700

Meats are generally regarded as a good source of tryptophan, organ meats supposedly being the highest. However, most meats are in the range of 160–260 mg/100 g, with organ meats ranging between 220 and 330. These figures certainly do not compel meat eating. They compel split pea, cheese, and cashew eating!


Ample amounts of B-complex vitamins, especially B-6 (pyridoxine) must be present for for your body's normal, depression-fighting chemical reactions to occur. The amount of B-6 needed for clinical effectiveness in, say, rabbits is the human dose equivalent of 75 mg daily. That is over 35 times more than the RDA!

Really enormous doses of B-6 taken alone have produced temporary neurological side effects. It usually takes between 2,000 and 5,000 mg daily for symptoms of numbness or tingling in the extremities.

Some side effects have been reported as low as 500 mg daily, but these are very rare indeed. Therapeutic doses between 100 and 500 milligrams daily are commonly prescribed by physicians for PMS relief.

A daily total of a few hundred milligrams of individual B-6, especially if taken in addition to the entire B-complex to ensure balance, is very safe indeed.


Benefits of the omega-3 found in cod liver oil and fish oil

Omega 3 helps prevent and fight heart disease,  cancer,  depression,  arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, ulcers, diabetes, hyperactivity and other diseases. Omega 3 increases your ability to concentrate as well as your energy level.

While a helpful form of Omega-3 can be found in flaxseed, walnuts and a few other foods, the most beneficial form of Omega-3 - containing 2 fatty acids, EPA and DHA which are essential in preventing and fighting both physical and mental illness - can be found only in fish. Consuming a lot of fish, whether naturally-caught or farm-raised, because fish of all varieties from any waters are now showing dangerously high levels of the highly toxic, tasteless metal, mercury.

 The main difference between fish oil and cod liver oil is that cod liver oil is high in vitamin D. The cod liver oil has the advantage of providing vitamin D, which is necessary in winter.

Many people get confused about the difference between fish oil liquid and cod liver oil. You can consider cod liver oil as fish oil+. The 2 are the same except that cod liver oil contains natural vitamin D and A.

An additional way to increase omega 3 fats in your diet would be to use freshly ground flax seeds .

Several studies and trials in humans have shown a favorable effect of dietary cod liver oil and fish oil on various risk factors for cardiovascular disease.


Studies have shown  that the Greenland Inuit, when compared with the population of Denmark, has a significantly lower rate of death from acute myocardial infarction despite only small differences in blood cholesterol levels. So cholesterol is not everything.

The traditional high-fat Inuit diet provides several grams of omega-3 fatty acid (DHA and EPA) each day in the form of marine mammals (whale, seal), wildfowl (seabirds) and various fish.

If you just listen to the 'experts', you would think that cholesterol is an evil substance and that most of us would benefit from lowering our cholesterol as low as possible. But it's not so. Cholesterol is a vitally important substance which is used for building our cell membranes and producing several of our hormones. If our cholesterol level drops too low, we are actually at increased risk for depression.

Moreover, the higher fish intakes in the Japanese diet relative to that of the United States have been associated with considerably lower rates of heart attacks, other ischemic heart disease and atherosclerosis despite only moderately lower blood cholesterol levels in the Japanese.

A European study of the effect of dietary omega-3 fatty acids - such as cod liver oil and fish oil - on coronary atherosclerosis (measured with coronary angiography) in people with cardiovascular disease using a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial showed improved health from the omega 3.

The study revealed that people with coronary artery disease given omega-3 (DHA and EPA) therapy (at levels of about 1.5 g/day) over a 2-year period had less progression and more regression of coronary disease, than did patients taking a placebo. Fewer cardiovascular events (fatal and non-fatal heart attacks, strokes) were noted in the omega-3 group. The omega-3 supplementation was considered safe and well tolerated.

Cod liver oil and depression

Research has found that people who suffer from depression who received a daily dose of 1 gram of an omega-3 fatty acid such as cod liver oil for 12 weeks experienced a decrease in their symptoms, such as anxiety, sadness andsleeping problems 

All the patients had already tried prescription drugs before enrolling in the study, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Zoloft, Paxil and Prozac, or drugs from an older family of drugs called tricyclic antidepressants, all of which are considered standard treatments for depression.

Previous studies have suggested that the balance of omega-3 fatty acids in the brain may be skewed in people with depression, and earlier studies have shown that cod liver oil and fish oil supplements can help alleviate the symptoms of depression and schizophrenia.

If you take your omega 3 in liquid form, as opposed to capsules, the dose for both the cod liver oil or fish oil liquid should be about 1-2 teaspoons per day. This is a good initial dose for most people but if you notice any belching, it is likely that your gallbladder is not digesting the oil properly and you may need to take a high potency enzyme with plenty of the fat digesting enzyme lipase.

Ideally, you would want to measure your vitamin D levels. Unfortunately very few doctors do this. But if you overdose on vitamin D you can actually cause hardening of your arteries and osteoporosis as it causes a reverse effect. In short,  you take cod liver oil during the winter months when our exposure to the sun is minimal, and fish oil during the summer months.

If you use beneficial products like cod liver oil without doing blood tests to check your vitamin D levels, you should keep the dose at 1 to 2 teaspoons per day to prevent overdosing or switch to plain fish oil (which contains no vitamin D).

Use 1 teaspoon per day for a child. When you give your child cod liver oil, you will also be supplying them with essential omega-3 fatty acids which will maximize their brain development.

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin B6 

Table of Contents

Vitamin B6: What is it?
What foods provide vitamin B6?
What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B6 for adults?
When can a vitamin B6 deficiency occur?
What are some current issues and controversies about vitamin B6?
What is the relationship between vitamin B6, homocysteine, and heart disease?
What is the health risk of too much vitamin B6?
Vitamin B6 intakes and healthful diets

Vitamin B6: What is it?

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that exists in three major chemical forms: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine [1,2]. It performs a wide variety of functions in your body and is essential for your good health. For example, vitamin B6 is needed for more than 100 enzymes involved in protein metabolism. It is also essential for red blood cell metabolism. The nervous and immune systems need vitamin B6 to function efficiently, [3-6] and it is also needed for the conversion of tryptophan (an amino acid) to niacin (a vitamin) [1,7].

Hemoglobin within red blood cells carries oxygen to tissues. Your body needs vitamin B6 to make hemoglobin. Vitamin B6 also helps increase the amount of oxygen carried by hemoglobin. A vitamin B6 deficiency can result in a form of anemia [1] that is similar to iron deficiency anemia.

An immune response is a broad term that describes a variety of biochemical changes that occur in an effort to fight off infections. Calories, protein, vitamins, and minerals are important to your immune defenses because they promote the growth of white blood cells that directly fight infections. Vitamin B6, through its involvement in protein metabolism and cellular growth, is important to the immune system. It helps maintain the health of lymphoid organs (thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes) that make your white blood cells. Animal studies show that a vitamin B6deficiency can decrease your antibody production and suppress your immune response [1,5]. 

Vitamin B6 also helps maintain your blood glucose (sugar) within a normal range. When caloric intake is low your body needs vitamin B6 to help convert stored carbohydrate or other nutrients to glucose to maintain normal blood sugar levels. While a shortage of vitamin B6 will limit these functions, supplements of this vitamin do not enhance them in well-nourished individuals [1,8-10]. 

What foods provide vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods including fortified cereals, beans, meat, poultry, fish, and some fruits and vegetables [1,11]. The table of selected food sources of vitamin B6suggests many dietary sources of B6. 

Table of Food Sources of Vitamin B6 [11]



Milligrams (mg) 
per serving

% DV*

Ready-to-eat cereal, 100% fortified, ¾ c



Potato, Baked, flesh and skin, 1 medium



Banana, raw, 1 medium



Garbanzo beans, canned, ½ c



Chicken breast, meat only, cooked, ½ breast



Ready-to-eat cereal, 25% fortified, ¾ c



Oatmeal, instant, fortified, 1 packet



Pork loin, lean only, cooked, 3 oz



Roast beef, eye of round, lean only, cooked, 3 oz



Trout, rainbow, cooked, 3 oz



Sunflower seeds, kernels, dry roasted, 1 oz



Spinach, frozen, cooked, ½ c



Tomato juice, canned, 6 oz



Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup



Salmon, Sockeye, cooked, 3 oz



Tuna, canned in water, drained solids, 3 oz



Wheat bran, crude or unprocessed, ¼ c



Peanut butter, smooth, 2 Tbs.



Walnuts, English/Persian, 1 oz



Soybeans, green, boiled, drained, ½ c



Lima beans, frozen, cooked, drained, ½ c



* DV = Daily Value. DVs are reference numbers based on the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). They were developed to help consumers determine if a food contains a lot or a little of a specific nutrient. The DV for vitamin B6 is 2.0 milligrams (mg). The percent DV (%DV) listed on the nutrition facts panel of food labels tells you what percentage of the DV is provided in one serving. Percent DVs are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs. Foods that provide lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.


What is the Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin B6 for adults?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the average daily dietary intake level that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97 to 98 percent) healthy individuals in each life-stage and gender group [12]. 

The 1998 RDAs for vitamin B6 [12] for adults, in milligrams, are:






Ages 19-50

1.3 mg

1.3 mg



Ages 51+

1.7 mg

1.5 mg



All Ages



1.9 mg

2.0 mg

Results of two national surveys, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III 1988-94) [12,13] and the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (1994-96 CSFII) [12], indicated that diets of most Americans meet current intake recommendations for vitamin B6 [12].


When can a vitamin B6 deficiency occur?

Clinical signs of vitamin B6 deficiency are rarely seen in the United States. Many older Americans, however, have low blood levels of vitamin B6, which may suggest a marginal or sub-optimal vitamin B6 nutritional status. Vitamin B6 deficiency can occur in individuals with poor quality diets that are deficient in many nutrients. Symptoms occur during later stages of deficiency, when intake has been very low for an extended time. Signs of vitamin B6 deficiency include dermatitis (skin inflammation), glossitis (a sore tongue), depression, confusion, and convulsions [1,12]. Vitamin B6 deficiency also can cause anemia [1,12,14]. Some of these symptoms can also result from a variety of medical conditions other than vitamin B6 deficiency. It is important to have a physician evaluate these symptoms so that appropriate medical care can be given. 

Who may need extra vitamin B6 to prevent a deficiency?
Individuals with a poor quality diet or an inadequate B6 intake for an extended period may benefit from taking a vitamin B6 supplement if they are unable to increase their dietary intake of vitamin B6 [1,15]. Alcoholics and older adults are more likely to have inadequate vitamin B6intakes than other segments of the population because they may have limited variety in their diet. Alcohol also promotes the destruction and loss of vitamin B6 from the body.

Asthmatic children treated with the medicine theophylline may need to take a vitamin B6supplement [16]. Theophylline decreases body stores of vitamin B6 [17], and theophylline-induced seizures have been linked to low body stores of the vitamin. A physician should be consulted about the need for a vitamin B6 supplement when theophylline is prescribed.

What are some current issues and controversies about vitamin B6?

Vitamin B6 and the nervous system
Vitamin B6 is needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine [1]. These neurotransmitters are required for normal nerve cell communication. Researchers have been investigating the relationship between vitamin B6 status and a wide variety of neurologic conditions such as seizures, chronic pain, depression, headache, and Parkinson's disease [18]. 

Lower levels of serotonin have been found in individuals suffering from depression and migraine headaches. So far, however, vitamin B6 supplements have not proved effective for relieving these symptoms. One study found that a sugar pill was just as likely as vitamin B6 to relieve headaches and depression associated with low dose oral contraceptives [19]. 

Alcohol abuse can result in neuropathy, abnormal nerve sensations in the arms and legs [20]. A poor dietary intake contributes to this neuropathy and dietary supplements that include vitamin B6 may prevent or decrease its incidence [18]. 

Vitamin B6 and carpal tunnel syndrome
Vitamin B6 was first recommended for carpal tunnel syndrome almost 30 years ago [21]. Several popular books still recommend taking 100 to 200 milligrams (mg) of vitamin B6 daily to treat carpal tunnel syndrome, even though scientific studies do not indicate it is effective. Anyone taking large doses of vitamin B6 supplements for carpal tunnel syndrome needs to be aware that the Institute of Medicine recently established an upper tolerable limit of 100 mg per day for adults [12]. There are documented cases in the literature of neuropathy caused by excessive vitamin B6 taken for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome [22]. 

Vitamin B6 and premenstrual syndrome
Vitamin B6 has become a popular remedy for treating the discomforts associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Unfortunately, clinical trials have failed to support any significant benefit [23]. One recent study indicated that a sugar pill was as likely to relieve symptoms of PMS as vitamin B6 [24]. In addition, vitamin B6 toxicity has been seen in increasing numbers of women taking vitamin B6 supplements for PMS. One review indicated that neuropathy was present in 23 of 58 women taking daily vitamin B6 supplements for PMS whose blood levels of B6were above normal [25]. There is no convincing scientific evidence to support recommending vitamin B6 supplements for PMS. 

Vitamin B6 and interactions with medications
There are many drugs that interfere with the metabolism of vitamin B6. Isoniazid, which is used to treat tuberculosis, and L-DOPA, which is used to treat a variety of neurologic problems such as Parkinson's disease, alter the activity of vitamin B6. There is disagreement about the need for routine vitamin B6 supplementation when taking isoniazid [26,27]. Acute isoniazid toxicity can result in coma and seizures that are reversed by vitamin B6, but in a group of children receiving isoniazid, no cases of neurological or neuropsychiatric problems were observed regardless of whether or not they took a vitamin B6 supplement. Some doctors recommend taking a supplement that provides 100% of the RDA for B6 when isoniazid is prescribed, which is usually enough to prevent symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency. It is important to consult with a physician about the need for a vitamin B6 supplement when taking isoniazid. 

What is the relationship between vitamin B6, homocysteine, and heart disease?

A deficiency of vitamin B6, folic acid, or vitamin B12 may increase your level of homocysteine, an amino acid normally found in your blood [28]. There is evidence that an elevated homocysteine level is an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke [29-37]. The evidence suggests that high levels of homocysteine may damage coronary arteries or make it easier for blood clotting cells called platelets to clump together and form a clot. However, there is currently no evidence available to suggest that lowering homocysteine level with vitamins will reduce your risk of heart disease. Clinical intervention trials are needed to determine whether supplementation with vitamin B6, folic acid, or vitamin B12 can help protect you against developing coronary heart disease. 

What is the health risk of too much vitamin B6?

Too much vitamin B6 can result in nerve damage to the arms and legs. This neuropathy is usually related to high intake of vitamin B6 from supplements, [28] and is reversible when supplementation is stopped. According to the Institute of Medicine, "Several reports show sensory neuropathy at doses lower than 500 mg per day" [12]. As previously mentioned, the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has established an upper tolerable intake level (UL) for vitamin B6 of 100 mg per day for all adults [12]. "As intake increases above the UL, the risk of adverse effects increases [12]." 

Vitamin B6 intakes and healthful diets

Vitamin B6 is found in a wide variety of foods. Foods such as fortified breakfast cereals, fish including salmon and tuna fish, meats such as pork and chicken, bananas, beans and peanut butter, and many vegetables will contribute to your vitamin B6 intake. According to the 2005Dietary Guidelines for Americans, "Nutrient needs should be met primarily through consuming foods. Foods provide an array of nutrients and other compounds that may have beneficial effects on health. In certain cases, fortified foods and dietary supplements may be useful sources of one or more nutrients that otherwise might be consumed in less than recommended amounts. However, dietary supplements, while recommended in some cases, cannot replace a healthful diet." 

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans describes a healthy diet as one that:

  • emphasizes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products;
  • includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts;
  • is low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars; and stays within your daily calorie needs.