Ascorbic Acid (Oral)

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a water-soluble vitamin used for healing wounds and aiding the body with certain functions, such as absorbing protein, fats, and carbohydrates.

Overview

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is a vitamin used to help heal wounds and strengthen blood vessel walls. It also aids the body in absorbing protein, fats, and carbohydrates. Typically used for normal growth and health, ascorbic acid is usually needed only in small amounts and can be contained in the foods you eat. A lack of vitamin C in the body can cause scurvy - a condition that weakens muscles, and causes swollen, bleeding gums, loss of teeth, tiredness, depression, and bleeding under the skin. Vitamin C is also used to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer.

Despite common beliefs, ascorbic acid has not been proven to be effective in preventing senility, some mental problems, the common cold, and for treating asthma, cancer, eye ulcers, hardening of the arteries, allergies, pressure sores, gum disease, and blood clots. Other conditions that increase the need for vitamin C include chronic illness, febrile states, and infections such as sinusitis, whooping cough, pneumonia, rheumatic fever, tuberculosis, diphtheria, etc. Ascorbic acid can also be given via injection by a licensed healthcare professional. Ascorbic acid is available without a prescription.

Condition(s) Treated

  • Scurvy
  • AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)
  • Infection (prolonged)
  • Alcoholism
  • Stress (continuing)
  • Burns
  • Intestinal diseases
  • Cancer
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Diarrhea (prolonged)
  • Overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism)
  • Fever (prolonged)
  • Surgical removal of stomach
  • Tuberculosis

Type of Medicine

  • Vitamin C

Side Effects

Certain medications or vitamins, when combined with other medications, can cause some unwelcome side effects. You may not experience all of the side effects on this list, but if you experience any of them, seek medical attention right away, or contact your doctor. Some less common side effects include lower back or side pain.

Some side effects you experience might not need medical attention, as they typically go away during treatment. Your body usually just needs time to adjust to the medication. Your doctor may be able to help you find ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects if they do happen to occur. Contact your doctor if any of the following side effects occur, or if they become bothersome:

  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or faintness (with the injection)
  • Flushing or redness of the skin
  • Headache
  • A mild increase in urination
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Stomach cramps

Some side effects not listed here can also occur. If you notice any side effects while taking ascorbic acid, contact your doctor. Be sure to report any unlisted side effects to the FDA.

Dosage

Follow all dosing instructions provided in the packaging of your medication. Be sure to read the label carefully and follow the instructions closely. The following information is the average dosing information. Dosing of all medications varies from patient to patient. If your doctor has prescribed you a different dosage, follow that rather than the information provided here. Do not change your dosage without your doctor's knowledge or consent.

The amount of medication you're prescribed depends upon the strength of the medication. The number of doses you take, the length of time you take the medication, and the time allowed between doses will all vary depending on the medical problem you're using ascorbic acid for.

Ascorbic acid comes in extended-release (long-acting) tablets and capsules, syrup, lozenges, liquid drops, and chewable tablets. It's usually taken daily. Do not crush or chew these tablets, as doing so can release all of the medication at once - something your body was not intended to handle. This can increase the risk of side effects. Do not split these tablets, unless your doctor or pharmacist tells you to do so. Usually, they'll instruct you on how to find the score line on your medication and then direct you on how to consume the medication from there. If your doctor did not give you such instructions, do not try to figure it out yourself. Stick to the instructions given on the package and by your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Take this medication with a full glass of water (eight ounces).

Follow any directions on the prescription label or package. Ask you doctor if you have any additional questions, or if you don't understand the directions. Take vitamin C only as directed. Do not take more or less than the doctor recommends. Treating scurvy with vitamin C could take up to three weeks for symptoms to improve.

For U.S. patients, adult and teenage males should take 50 to 60 milligrams per day to prevent deficiency. Adult and teenage females should take 50 to 60 milligrams per day. Pregnant females should take about 70 milligrams per day. Breastfeeding females should take 90 to 95 milligrams per day. Children ages 4 to 10 should take 45 milligrams per day, while children ages birth to 3 years should take 30 to 40 milligrams per day. These dosages are based on the tablet, capsule, syrup and oral solution forms of vitamin C.

To treat deficiency, adults and teenagers must have their dosages determined by their doctor, since the amount required will be based on the severity of the deficiency. For scurvy, the dosage is typically around 500 milligrams per day for at least two weeks. To treat deficiency in children, once again, the dosage must be determined by the child's healthcare provider, as the dosage depends on the severity of the deficiency. However, the average dosage is 100 to 300 milligrams per day for at least two weeks.

The oral liquid form of vitamin C should be taken by mouth, despite the fact that it comes with a dropper bottle. It can be dropped directly into your or your child's mouth, or it can be mixed in with fruit juice, cereal, or other foods.

If you've been prescribed the powder, mix it thoroughly with the right amount of liquid and stir it well. You must drink the liquid mixture right away. You cannot save it for future doses.

Interactions

Certain medications should not be used in conjunction, however, in some cases, two medicines might be used together, despite an interaction. In this case, your doctor may change your dosage, or take other necessary precautions. The following medications may potentially interact with ascorbic acid. Using vitamin C with any of the medications listed below is usually not recommended. If your doctor prescribes you both, you may have to change the dosage or how often you take either medication.

  • Amygdaline
  • Amphetamine
  • Benzphetamine
  • bortezomib
  • Deferoxamine
  • Dextroamphetamine

Using ascorbic acid with the following medication can cause an increased risk of some side effects, but using both drugs may be the best course of treatment for you, as determined by your doctor. If both ascorbic acid and one of the medications listed below are prescribed together, your doctor may decrease your dosage of one of the medications - or both - or change how often you take one.

  • Indinavir
  • Lisdexamfetamine
  • Acrivastine
  • pseudoephedrine
  • Pseudoephedrine
  • Dexbrompheniramine
  • Codeine
  • Triprolidine
  • Acetaminophen
  • Guaifenesin
  • Dextromethorphan
  • Doxorubicin
  • Diphenhydramine
  • Aminophylline
  • Phenobarbital
  • Ethinyl estradiol
  • Ipecac
  • Chlorpheniramine
  • Levonorgestrel
  • Carbinoxamine
  • Cetirizine
  • Doxylamine
  • Fexofenadine
  • Amobarbital
  • Loratadine
  • Brompheniramine
  • Chlorcyclizine
  • Dihydrocodeine
  • Hydrocodone
  • Carbetapentane
  • Pyrilamine
  • Methscopolamine
  • Chlophedianol
  • Ibuprofen
  • Desloratadine
  • Desogestrel
  • Dyphylline
  • Flecainide
  • Fluphenazine
  • Mexiletine

Certain medical problems can cause interactions with ascorbic acid. They include:

  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • Blood problems
  • History of kidney stones
  • Glucose-6 phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency

Taking ascorbic acid in large amounts can cause additional blood problems, an increased risk of kidney stones in the urinary tract, test interference for sugar in the urine, and hemolytic anemia.

Warnings

Vitamin C does not stay in the body; therefore, if you take more than needed, the excess vitamin C will pass into the urine. Large doses of vitamin C can interfere with certain tests for sugar in diabetic patients, as well as tests for blood in the stool.

Talk to your doctor if you're allergic to ascorbic acid or any other medications. It's important to let your doctor know about any medications you're taking, including prescription and nonprescription drugs, as well as any other vitamins. Keeping a list of all of the medications you're currently taking is recommended. That way, each time you visit the doctor or the pharmacy, or if you're ever admitted to a hospital, you'll have the list with you. Carry this with you at all times in case of an emergency.

If you've had kidney stones, let your doctor know prior to taking ascorbic acid. Patients with diabetes should consult their doctor or pharmacist about the proper way to test their urine while taking large amounts of this vitamin. Also, consult your doctor if you have hereditary iron overload disorder (hemochromatosis).

If you're pregnant, or you are planning on becoming pregnant, talk to your doctor. If you become pregnant while already taking vitamin C, let your doctor know right away. Your dosage of vitamin C may need to be slightly adjusted if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, as this vitamin can pass through breast milk. Let your doctor know if you plan on using large amounts of vitamin C while breastfeeding.

Avoid certain types of ascorbic acid that contain sodium, especially if you're on a salt-restricted or sodium-restricted diet. In some cases, your doctor may suggest a change in doses, increasing your vitamin C intake.

If you miss a dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember - unless it's almost time for the next dose, in which case you should skip the missed dose and resume your normal dosing schedule. Never double up on doses to make up for a missed one.

Do not cancel any appointments with your doctor; instead keep any appointments so that your doctor can closely monitor your reaction to this medication. Keep all laboratory appointments and let any doctors who treat you know that you're taking ascorbic acid, as it can interfere with certain lab tests, such as urine glucose tests. This can cause potentially false results. Make sure the lab personnel know you're taking ascorbic acid.

Diabetic patients who take more than 500 milligrams of vitamin C per day should avoid taking it for 48 to 72 hours before amine-dependent stool occult blood tests are taken due to the potential for false negative results.

Do not let anyone else take your medication and do not take anyone else's medication. If you need more ascorbic acid, simply ask your doctor or pharmacist about refilling your prescription.

Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be found naturally in certain foods, such as tomatoes, citrus fruit, potatoes, and leafy vegetables. Talk to your doctor about your diet while taking ascorbic acid. He or she may recommend eating fresh fruits and vegetables, since they have the highest vitamin content. Processed foods can destroy the vitamins. For example, cooking, drying, salting, mincing, or mashing food can all destroy the vitamin content in many foods. However, freezing your food doesn't usually cause a loss of vitamin C, unless you store your food for long periods of time.

Drink plenty of water while taking this medication. Swallow the extended-release tablet whole; avoid chewing, crushing or breaking it. Measure out the correct amount of liquid with a medicine cup or measuring spoon. Your pharmacist can provide you with one if one does not come with the medication.

Do not open the orally disintegrating tablet until you're ready to take it. Make sure your hands are completely dry before removing the tablet from its package and placing it in your mouth. This tablet should not be swallowed whole, but instead, you should allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing it. Swallow a few times to allow the tablet to fully dissolve.

Do not stop taking ascorbic acid suddenly after taking high doses for a long period of time. This could cause something called "conditional" vitamin C deficiency. The symptoms of this condition include: blue or red pinpoint spots around your hair follicles, bleeding gums, and feeling very tired. Your doctor can suggest ways to help you taper off your dosage to avoid conditional vitamin C deficiency. This condition can be difficult to correct without proper help from medical professionals.

The older you are, the more vitamin C you need. Follow your healthcare provider's instructions on dosage, or consult the Office of Dietary Supplements of the National Institutes of Health, or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient Database.

Storage

Keep this medication stored in a tightly closed container, preferably in the same container it came in. Keep it out of sight and reach of children. Ascorbic acid should be stored at room temperature away from extreme moisture and heat. Therefore, the bathroom would not be an appropriate place to store this medication.

Any unused medication should be disposed of in a way that children, pets, or other people can't easily get into your medication. Avoid flushing your medication down the toilet or throwing it in the trashcan. The best way to dispose of your medication is via a medicine take-back program. You can ask your doctor or pharmacist about local take-back programs in the area. You can also contact your community garbage or recycling department.

Summary

Ascorbic acid, when used correctly, can be beneficial to patients with scurvy, as well as patients with a vitamin C deficiency. Patients most likely to have a vitamin C deficiency include smokers, patients who undergo surgery, infants drinking unfortified formulas, patients exposed to long periods of cold temperatures, and patients using an artificial kidney. However, ascorbic acid is most commonly used to treat scurvy. Eating a balanced diet while taking vitamin C is recommended. Your doctor can help you determine the best diet for you, depending on your individual vitamin and mineral needs. Asking for a specific list of foods to eat and foods to avoid can be helpful when it comes time to prepare your next meal.

When taken correctly, ascorbic acid can help heal wounds and aids in certain functions in the body, such as helping the body absorb fats, protein and carbohydrates. Ascorbic acid also aids in strengthening blood vessel walls. Vitamin C most commonly aids in the relief of certain symptoms related to scurvy, including swollen and bleeding gums, muscle weakness, bleeding under the skin, loss of teeth, tiredness and depression. Patients with scurvy also suffer from wounds that do not heal as easily. Ascorbic acid may come in the form of Ascot, C-Time, Sunkist Vitamin C, Cecon Drops, C-500 Chewable tablets, Cevi-Bid, Centrum Singles-Vitamin C, and Vicks Vitamin C Drops, among others.

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