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Vitamin C for Adrenal Fatigue

  • Vitamin C is an important adrenal fatigue supplement
  • But you can get too much of a good thing

Vitamin C is an essential vitamin for adrenal fatigue. There are a few reasons why it is helpful.

However, there is conflicting information regarding how much you should take. You can get too much of a good thing.

Some adrenal fatigue doctors use very large doses of Vitamin C.

Other practitioners caution against long term mega dosing of Vitamin C. They have found that it can upset mineral levels.

After using large doses for a period of time, people often become intolerant of any Vitamin C. This article explains the most likely reason for developing intolerance.

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Pros and Cons of Vitamin C

Pros of Vitamin C

  1. Vitamin C is used up quickly during stress, which makes it helpful for adrenal fatigue.
  2. Very powerful for fighting infections and boosting your immune system
  3. Helps reduce damage when exposed to certain toxins and actively helps remove some toxic metals. Vitamin C is a good chelator, which means it bonds to metal ions to assist in removal.7. This is helpful for adrenal fatigue, since toxins accumulate when you are stuck in a state of stress.
  4. Vitamin C has very low toxicity. At least on a short term basis, extremely large doses are safe.

Cons of Vitamin C (Large Dose)

  1. Since it is a great chelator, Vitamin C also removes important minerals. It does not limit itself to removing only toxic metals. Therefore, in large doses, Vitamin C can reduce or cause imbalances in essential minerals. Very few adrenal fatigue doctors have made this connection.
  2. Many people with adrenal fatigue end up becoming intolerant of any vitamin C after using large dosages.

More detail on these topics is provided below.

You Need More Vitamin C During Stress

Vitamin C utilization increases during times of stress, this includes exposure to toxins or virus' 1,2,5. This is why Vitamin C is such an important adrenal fatigue supplement.

It really doesn't matter what the source of stress is; influenza, exposure to toxic metals, chemical exposure, have all been found to reduce blood levels of Vitamin C1.

  Cathcart also found that stressful conditions of any kind, but especially viral infections, would greatly increase the utilization rate of vitamin C in the body.1

Vitamin C for Infections

  • Do you get more sick than others with a cold?

If you have adrenal fatigue, you may have noticed that you are more prone to getting sick with a flu or cold, or you become sicker than others. There is direct connection of Vitamin C to the immune system.

  When the vitamin C stores are rapidly depleted by large infecting doses of an aggressive virus, the immune system gets similarly depleted and compromised.1

If your Vitamin C is already being utilized at a high rate due to stress, you will have less available to help fight an infection.

A short term increase in dosage to fight an infection would be prudent. Especially if you have adrenal fatigue, you will need a short term boost of Vitamin C.

Here are a few quotes that show just how powerful Vitamin c is for fighting infections.

  Vasilev and Komar (1988) also determined that this same dose (300 mg) of vitamin C clearly resulted in a more rapid recovery of the depressed T-lymphocyte levels seen in acute viral hepatitis.1
  The immune function in patients with measles was also demonstrated to be enhanced by the administration of vitamin C. 1

Vitamin C is clearly helpful for fighting infections. With or without adrenal fatigue, a short term boost is helpful during these times.

Vitamin C for Removing Toxins

  A given chemical toxin can make the body's ability to cope with other challenges all the more difficult by lowering the vitamin C level in the course of its detoxification1.

Vitamin C is used up in dealing with the toxins, weakening your ability to deal with other sources of stress. The same thing happens in reverse.

Increased stress reduces Vitamin C and leaves you with less Vitamin C to deal with toxins. With less Vitamin C due to other sources of stress, toxins will get the upper hand on you.

Chronic stress also lowers glutathione, which is very important for removing toxins8, 9. You will gradually accumulate more and more toxins after years of chronic stress.

As toxins start to accumulate throughout the body, the toxins themselves become a source of stress. It is a viscous cycle that just keeps getting worse and worse.

An important part of your adrenal fatigue treatment will be to reverse that cycle and start eliminating toxins. Vitamin C has a role to play in protecting you from and removing toxins.

Increased levels of Vitamin C helps the liver complete one of it's main functions, which is the removal of toxins1.

Depending on the toxin, Vitamin C has been shown to either protect you from damage...or actively bind to and help remove the toxin (chelate)1.

The book Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins describes specific studies for many toxins.

For example, here is on quote from the book discussing how Vitamin C helps remove lead:

  ...found that vitamin C was effective in chelating lead already absorbed into the body as well as preventing lead from being absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract in the first place.1

As good as it is for protecting you from and helping remove can get too much of a good thing. As we shall see a little later, Vitamin C also removes essential minerals from the body if used in too high of doses.

Low Toxicity

Vitamin C is has a very low level of toxicity. It can be taken in very large doses, especially during periods of infection.

In 2001 Casciari et al. (2001) used 50,000 mg of Vitamin C daily on cancer patients. The vitamin C was administered through intravenous. Blood tests showed no indication of toxicity. There also appeared to be no side effects from this high of a dosage1.

A 1985 study on 100 patients with colorectal cancer used 10,000 mg per day of Vitamin C. No evidence of a vitamin C toxicity was observed in any of the patients1, 11.

However.... these people would be utilizing Vitamin C at a very high rate due to their illness. If you are under less stress, or are not fighting a major infection or disease, your tolerance for Vitamin C will be less.

Cathart (1985) found that the amount of Vitamin C a person could tolerate increased in proportion to the amount of stress and/or the toxicity of their disease12.

As helpful as Vitamin C is for adrenal fatigue, we will now cover some of the concerns with mega-dosing.

Removal of Important Minerals

  • Mega-dosing of Vitamin C can strip important minerals out of your body

As noted above, Vitamin C can be used to chelate (bind to and remove) toxic metals. The problem is that it is also very good at removing important minerals 4,5,6. If you have adrenal fatigue, you will already be deficient in some minerals, so you can not afford to lose more.

Dr Phil Bate used regular Vitamin C to chelate toxic minerals (lead, mercury, aluminum, etc) 4. He used replacement minerals during chelation to attempt to replace the good minerals being pulled out by Vitamin C. However ... is it possible to replace and absorb the exact minerals that are being pulled out by Vitamin C. Can you really maintain balance?

Dr Larry Wilson has found that it is not possible to maintain balance. He cautions against mega dosing of Vitamin C, and his experience is that attempting to maintain mineral balance during chelation does not work6.

Larry Wilson uses Vitamin C as part of his Nutritional Balancing treatment protocol. But he does not use mega-doses.

Dr Ronald Roth, of shares the same opinion:

  the effect of a regular, daily overdose of Vitamin C is not an acute event as experienced with a deadly, toxic substance, but a gradual change in mineral ratios,or the progressive lowering of other essential elements, which over time can result in the development of moderate to serious medical problems. 5

Some adrenal fatigue doctors use very large doses of Vitamin C for treatment.

Dr James Wilson, who wrote the ground breaking book on adrenal fatigue, recommends using a Vitamin C loading test, which is also called the Bowel Tolerance Test.

Best book to start with if you want to learn about Adrenal Fatigue.

The idea is that the amount of Vitamin C you can need will be determined by how much you can tolerate before developing diarrhea.

It is clear that the amount of Vitamin C your bowels can tolerate increases with increasing stress12. However, it is not known if the bowel tolerance test still results in Vitamin C levels being high enough to strip out essential minerals.

But at least with the type of Vitamin C that Dr James Wilson uses, there is some self limit to the amount of Vitamin C you can take (due to diarrhea), and it does appear to correlate with what you body actually needs to some extent.

Liposomal Vitamin C

However, there is a new form of Vitamin C that is not self-limiting. Some adrenal fatigue doctors have started to use Liposomal Vitamin C.

With Liposomal Vitamin C, the actual Vitamin C is encapsulated or coated with phospholipids. Basically, your bowels don't know it is Vitamin C. It is like a Trojan Horse, so it is absorbed at a very high rate.

This high absorption can be great in the short term, but it can often lead to intolerance of Vitamin C.

Intolerance Caused by High Dose Vitamin C

  • Many with adrenal fatigue become intolerant of Vitamin C after mega-dosing with Liposomal C

Dr. Lam is one of the most prominent adrenal fatigue doctors. He uses large amounts of Vitamin C as part of his treatment protocol.

After spending many years on the adrenal fatigue forum on, it is obvious that this protocol does not work out well for everyone.

Many people end up becoming completely intolerant of any Vitamin C after taking mega doses for a while.

For some, the mega-dosing of Vitamin C helps them at the start .... then it seems to turn on them. For others, they get worse immediately.

Here are a few sample posts from the Curezone adrenal fatigue forum. There are many similar posts:

  High dosing vitamin C picked me up from the first severe crash of my life in May of 2012....but then put me in an even bigger crash 5 months later once my body started to "reject" any dose of vitamin C. I am still unable to take Vitamin C....even one gram. It's really weird and I am still having trouble understanding why after 9 months going off I am still having trouble tolerating Vitamin C
Post by nyckid10
  I haven't worked with Lam other than an initial consultation, but I can relate to the vitamin C intolerance. At first it made things much better, particularly if I took high doses during a hypoglycemic attack or panic attack. But eventually it caused sugar drops and severe anxiety. Now I can only tolerate the small amounts present in food. Even 50-100mgs in supplement form bother me
Post by UserX
  To this day, I can't take any vitamin C. It makes me feel sick to the stomach with ibs, as well as jittery. I try to take a little bit of vit C in tiny doses once every 4 or 5 months just to see if I can tolerate it again, but I can't. Before I got on Lam's program, I could take 1,000 or 2,000 mg vit C very easily each day, even though I had AF.
Post by hope4myadrenals

I actually experienced this myself while working with Dr.Lam in 2010. All of sudden, I could not tolerate Vitamin C. At least not for a while.

The key seemed to be improved liver clearance. Once my clearance improved, I could take Vitamin C again, even large doses of Liposomal C.

Liver Issues and Intolerance

  • Liver issues are the likely cause of Vitamin C Intolerance

Dr. Lam does know that Vitamin C intolerance is related to liver clearance issues. Here is a quote from his site:

  Those with adrenal fatigue, especially in the advance stage, may experience increased anxiety and or fatigue with vitamin C. This is generally due to a clearance problem and not the vitamin C itself.14. From Dr. Lams site

The problem is that he doesn't know what to do about poor clearance. Or least he didn't when I worked with him.

I worked with Dr Lam from 2009 to 2011. When I mentioned my beige bowel movements, he told me I had poor clearance. But didn't describe any method to improve it.

The majority of people with adrenal fatigue will have liver issues. To understand why, see the article: Liver Issues and Adrenal Fatigue.

Here is a post from the Adrenal Fatigue forum on Curezone:

  With lots of other supplements in the past 2 years to clean my liver I think I am somewhat better. I can now take 9 grams of vitamin C spread across the day and have no ill effects. 13

My own experience was similar. Once my clearance improved, I could tolerate large doses of Vitamin C without issue.

So How Much Should You Take?

So how do you put all this information together? How much should you take?

It is hard to give a definitive guide for each person. Below are a couple of guides from two of the very few doctors that understand the risk of chelating important minerals.

It is true that you use up Vitamin C at a faster rate when exposed to stress.

But if you are doing meditation, slow breathing exercises, and other stress reduction techniques, you should need less Vitamin C than when you were on your way to developing adrenal fatigue.

The Nutritional Balancing program from ARL / Larry Wilson uses 600 mg total per day, in 3 divided doses. And this is for their adrenal burnout treatment protocol.

Dr Ronald Roth, of recommends 500 mg of Vitamin C for anyone in general.5

If you are under a lot of stress, you can probably take a bit more for a few days. Or if you are fighting a cold or a flu, you can take more for a few days as well.

If you are working on detoxing (which is essential for adrenal fatigue), you may want to take more Vitamin C for a couple of days during detox reactions.

And if you have developed intolerance for Vitamin C, or other supplements..... it is time to focus on your liver.

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1. Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins
2. Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
3. Immune-enhancing role of vitamin C and zinc and effect on clinical conditions.
4. Dr Bate: Mineral Toxicity and Chelation
5. Vitamin C Requirements: Optimal Health Benefits versus Overdose
6. VITAMIN C - by Lawrence Wilson, MD
7. Chelation
8. The effect of chronic stress on hepatic and gastric lipid peroxidation in long-term depletion of glutathione in rats.
9. Dr. Rowe, Carl (2011-10-27). Glutathione
10. CHELATION THERAPY By Lawrence Wilson, MD
11. High-dose vitamin C versus placebo in the treatment of patients with advanced cancer who have had no prior chemotherapy. A randomized double-blind comparison.
12. Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance, anascorbemia, and acute induced scurvy
13. Cureszone Post: Liver and Vitamin C
14. Dr Lam: Vitamin C Safety
15. Liver Foundation

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