Vitamins and minerals are an important part of a healthy diet. Vitamin C, in particular, is essential for normal growth and development. While it is rare, too much vitamin C can cause toxicity; the vitamin becomes toxic to the system. It is more likely to happen, and more dangerous, in children.
Vitamin C is an extremely important vitamin in the correct doses. It is essential to body tissues such as skin, tendons, ligaments, bones and teeth. Too little vitamin C can cause problems with all of these skin tissues and even cause decreased metabolism. Too much of a good thing, however, makes it dangerous.
Vitamin C is water-soluble, meaning that it needs to be constantly resupplied to the body because it cannot be stored. That doesn't mean that it can't be overdosed. The recommended daily allowance for children ages 1 to 3 is only 15 mg per day. Even a full-grown, adult male only needs 90 mg per day.
Vitamin C supplements are widely available. They are used, controversially, to treat many conditions, including upper respiratory diseases such as colds, and to boost immunity. They also are used to treat cancer in some cases. Most supplements have way more vitamin C (100 mg to 2,000 mg) than the recommended dose. According to the National Academy of Sciences, the upper limit for children ages 1 to 3 is only 400 mg. Anything above the upper limit causes adverse reactions or toxicity.
The most common signs of vitamin C toxicity in children are intestinal, such as abdominal cramping, stomach upset and diarrhea. Other effects of vitamin C toxicity include a possible increase in kidney stones, erosion of dental enamel, an increase in iron absorption and an increase in oxygen demand.
Vitamin C is an essential vitamin, but children can ingest enough through a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables that are high in vitamin C content. These include citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, green peppers, watermelon, most berries, sweet potatoes, squash and broccoli. Read labels, and don't give your child multivitamins with large doses of vitamin C.