Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that plays many important roles in the body. It is a water soluble vitamin, which means excess amounts are flushed out in urine and do not get stored in the body. Vitamin C is abundant in many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, peppers and leafy greens.
Getting enough vitamin C is crucial for health. It is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. It is also needed for the growth, development and repair of tissues in the body.
Additionally, vitamin C helps produce collagen, supports immune function, enhances the absorption of iron from foods, and can regenerate other antioxidants in the body.
While vitamin C has many benefits, it can interact negatively with some medications and supplements. This article will examine what you should not mix with vitamin C.
Medications that Interact with Vitamin C
Here are some of the main medication types that should not be taken at the same time as vitamin C:
- Blood thinners: Vitamin C may enhance the blood thinning effects of medications like warfarin and heparin. This increases the risk of bruising and bleeding.
- Cholesterol medications: Vitamin C appears to reduce the effectiveness of statin drugs like atorvastatin and simvastatin, possibly by preventing their absorption.
- Blood pressure medications: Vitamin C may slightly lower blood pressure. Taking it with anti-hypertensive medications could cause pressure to drop too far.
- Some chemotherapy drugs: Vitamin C may interact with drugs like methotrexate and fludarabine, making them less effective against cancer cells.
- Barbiturates: High doses of vitamin C may block the absorption of barbiturate drugs like phenobarbital, potentially leading to withdrawal symptoms.
- Estrogen pills: Vitamin C may increase estrogen levels when taken with birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy.
The interactions between vitamin C and these medications are not fully proven. However, it is recommended to separate them by at least 2-4 hours to be safe.
Inform your healthcare provider about supplements you are taking, including vitamin C. They can help determine whether any medication adjustments are needed.
Supplements that Don’t Mix with Vitamin C
In addition to medications, there are some supplements and vitamins that may interact with vitamin C:
- Vitamin B12: Very high doses of vitamin C can make it harder for the body to absorb vitamin B12.
- Vitamin E: Taking vitamin C with vitamin E supplements may reduce the effectiveness of each vitamin.
- Iron: Vitamin C enhances iron absorption. Do not take high doses of both iron and vitamin C.
- Zinc: High doses of vitamin C may decrease zinc absorption in the gut.
- Phytates: These compounds found in grains, nuts and seeds can impair vitamin C absorption.
- Calcium: Some research shows large amounts of vitamin C and calcium should not be taken together.
To get the most out of your supplements, try to space out your doses of vitamin C and any of these nutrients by 1-2 hours.
Foods and Drinks to Avoid With Vitamin C
There are also some foods and beverages that may interact negatively with vitamin C. These include:
- Coffee and black tea: The tannins in these drinks can reduce absorption of vitamin C.
- Raw meat and eggs: Vitamin C helps form carcinogens when mixed with proteins from raw meat and eggs.
- Soft drinks: Sodas containing phosphoric acid tend to lower vitamin C levels.
- Processed foods: Preservatives like nitrates and sulfates deplete vitamin C.
- Alcohol: Large amounts of alcohol increase the excretion of vitamin C from the body.
To maximize your vitamin C intake, avoid consuming large amounts of these foods and beverages at the same time.
Safe Ways to Take Vitamin C
Here are some tips to safely take vitamin C:
- Get vitamin C from whole food sources like oranges, red peppers, kale and broccoli when possible.
- Read supplement labels closely to make sure vitamin C won’t interact with your medications.
- Take vitamin C supplements with water instead of juice, which may contain nutrients that interact with vitamin C.
- Don’t take more than 2,000 mg vitamin C per day as higher doses may cause diarrhea, nausea or kidney stones.
- Separate dosages of vitamin C and interacting medications by at least 2-4 hours.
- Tell your healthcare provider about all supplements you take.
Here are some key takeaways about what not to mix with vitamin C:
- Avoid taking vitamin C with blood thinners, statins, blood pressure drugs, chemotherapy medications, barbiturates and estrogen pills.
- Don’t take high doses of vitamin C with supplements like vitamin B12, vitamin E, iron, zinc and calcium.
- Limit coffee, tea, raw meat, eggs, soda, processed foods and alcohol when taking vitamin C.
- Stick to food sources of vitamin C when possible and don’t exceed 2,000 mg from supplements.
- Take vitamin C separately from interacting medications by at least 2-4 hours.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is essential for health but may interact with some medications, supplements and foods. To avoid issues, take vitamin C separately from anything that may impair vitamin C absorption or effectiveness.
Additionally, stick to moderate doses from supplements, cap intake at 2,000 mg per day and let your healthcare provider know about any supplements you’re taking.
By being aware of potential vitamin C interactions, you can safely optimize your intake of this important nutrient.