What is a vitamin C flush?
A vitamin C flush is also known as an ascorbate cleanse. It’s thought that high levels of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) can help rid your body of toxins. Advocates of the practice recommend introducing high amounts of vitamin C into your diet at regular intervals until you produce watery stool.
Keep reading to learn more about the purported benefits, what the research says, the potential side effects, and more.
What are the purported benefits?
Some people look to a vitamin C flush when they want a rapid detoxification or to recover quickly from an illness.
People who recommend a vitamin C flush as a detox method claim that it:
- boosts the body’s vitamin C stores
- determines how much vitamin C the body needs every day
- leaves the body feeling refreshed and energized
Vitamin C is believed to:
- have anti-aging properties
- boost the immune system
- help the body absorb minerals
- protect the body from chemical toxins
- help the body ward off infection
What does the research say?
Although there are many anecdotal claims about the benefits of a vitamin C flush, there isn’t any scientific evidence to support any of the above benefits.
According to Vanessa Rissetto, registered dietitian, the only reason to do a vitamin C flush would be to correct a vitamin C deficiency, or scurvy. Vitamin C deficiency primarily affects people who live on a low income.
Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include:
- muscle pain or weakness
- loss of appetite
- bleeding or swollen gums
- sores in your mouth
- unexplained rash or red spots
If you suspect that you have a deficiency, see your doctor. They can assess your symptoms and make a diagnosis.
If you want to do a vitamin C flush
Although there aren’t any scientific reasons to do a vitamin C flush, it’s probably safe for healthy adults to do one. You should always talk to your doctor before performing a vitamin C flush.
Important things to remember before you carry out a vitamin C flush:
- You can eat normally throughout the process.
- Do the flush on a day you’re at home (so you can be near the bathroom).
- If you have a sensitive stomach, take a buffered ascorbate powder that’s bound to minerals like calcium and magnesium.
- Keep your water intake up to replace lost fluids.
- A loose stool is not sufficient — it has to be a watery stool.
Potential side effects and risks
During a flush, you may experience:
You should never do a vitamin C flush without your doctor’s supervision. Consuming large doses of vitamin C and abruptly stopping can cause severe complications.
In some cases, flush-related diarrhea can lead to severe dehydration. Because of this, Sue Decotiis, MD, warns that children, women who are pregnant, and adults over age 65 should never attempt a vitamin C flush.
You should also avoid doing a flush if you have:
- Gilbert’s disease
- irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- kidney problems
It’s important to note that over-the-counter (OTC) vitamins can vary in quality. According to Dr. Decotiis, third-party tests often find tremendous differences in potency, purity, and efficacy within different batches of the same product. You should only purchase vitamin C from a trusted manufacturer.
Talk to your doctor first
If you’re thinking about doing a vitamin C flush, talk to your doctor first. They can help determine whether a vitamin C flush would be beneficial for you, and the potential risks you may face if you choose to do so.