Your Medication and Vitamin C

What effect do medications have on Vitamin C?

Last week, we looked at the key roles Vitamin C fulfills in your body.  This week we look at some specific medications and their interaction with Vitamin C.   About 70% of Americans have used at least one prescription drug this year.   For the average drug, there are numerous potential reactions, which is why you need to tell your doctor every drug or supplement that you are taking.   Drugs can produce side effects that reduce the effectiveness of vitamins and minerals in your body.  This action creates hidden deficiencies that can decrease your health.  Other medications may become more effective, or extra strong when taken with vitamins.  Be sure to ask your doctor if there is any interactions with your supplements.   

Do you use any of these medications?

Aspirin can decrease vitamin C concentration in the blood and tissues, and will increase vitamin C in the urine.  Vitamin C helps keep the connective tissue of the intestines strong, and aspirin will deplete the vitamin C in these tissues.  Additional vitamin C should be consumed when taking aspirin on a regular basis.  Additional Vitamin C will strengthen the tissue of the gut that is most effected by aspirin.

Birth Control with estrogen can decrease concentrations of vitamin C in healthy young women who have used contraceptives consistently, according to some studies.   Use of birth control pills has also been associated lower concentrations of other vitamins, such as B12.    A key factor is the quality of the diet the young women have.   The better the diet, the better the vitamin levels while taking birth control.

Proton Pump inhibitors (PPIs) reduce the amount of digestive fluids in the stomach and have been associated with decreased vitamin C, iron, and magnesium.   There is more concern for elderly or malnourished who may be taking PPIs and do not realize the decreasing nutrient levels in their body.   Additional Vitamin C should be consumed daily for those using PPIs.

Levodopa for Parkinson’s Disease Levodopa (L-dopa) is a common therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease.  L-dopa generates reactive oxygen species as a side effect, which can increase inflammation and damage cells.   Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant, removing the reactive oxygen species generated by L-dopa.  Patients who take Vitamin C along with L-dopa found the progression of the disease decreased significantly.

Can I overdose?   The Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin C is about 80 mg for an adult and the Tolerable Limit is 2000 mg per day.  A dose up to 500 mg at one time allows your body to absorb more effectively than when a greater amount is taken.  The key symptoms to observe are any intestinal cramps or pain, or increased bowel movements.  Your body will excrete whatever it does not absorb, which will increase your bowel movements.

In the next post, we will look at “What is the best way to get Vitamin C?”