Many of us swear by the healing properties of apple cider vinegar. It is one of the best natural tonics available in the market and adds a lovely zing to our food.
It is, therefore, very easy to go all out and add a few splashes of it to every meal we prepare or take a gulp or two every now and then to keep our bodies soaring in the pink of health. Very few of us, however, are aware of what happens if we overdose on apple cider vinegar. The side effects can be very nasty.
Before we get to the downside of consuming too much apple cider vinegar, here’s a quick look at what this tonic really is about.
What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?
A combination of yeast and apples, apple cider vinegar is made up of 5–6% of acetic acid. While acetic acid is considered a “weak acid,” apple cider vinegar, when concentrated, has extremely potent acidic properties. It also contains water and trace amounts of vitamins, minerals, and other acids.
It is a well-known fact that apple cider vinegar has the ability to significantly reduce blood sugar levels, regulate cholesterol levels, aid in increasing insulin sensitivity, and also help shed excess weight. However, it is recommended to consume apple cider vinegar in moderation because it can lead to some very serious side effects, especially when consumed in large doses.
Signs That You’re Overdosing On Apple Cider Vinegar
While small amounts are usually fine and healthy, taking too much can not only be harmful but can even be dangerous. If you’re suffering from one or more of the following conditions, it’s very likely that you’re taking in way more apple cider vinegar than your body needs.
1. Delayed Emptying Of The Stomach
Apple cider vinegar brings down the rate at which the stomach empties itself of all the food you’ve eaten and passes it into the lower part of the digestive tract. This way it prevents your blood sugar from spiking. At this point, it drastically slows down the absorption of food into the bloodstream. This may pose a serious problem for type 1 diabetes patients suffering from gastroparesis.
Gastroparesis is a condition in which the nerves inside the stomach stop functioning efficiently and the stomach can no longer empty itself properly. This leads to food staying inside the stomach for far too long.
Gastroparesis comes with symptoms like severe bloating, heartburn, and nausea. Type 1 diabetic patients suffering from gastroparesis cannot time their insulin intake with their meals because it then becomes impossible to determine the duration of both digestion and absorption of food by the stomach.
2. Bloating And Decrease In Appetite
Apple cider vinegar may inhibit healthy digestion and result in discomfort in some people. Studies claim that acetic acid may either drastically reduce your appetite or make you feel full or bloated. This makes you want to eat less, thus resulting in lower calorie intake.
The daily consumption of 25 grams of apple cider vinegar was found to decrease appetite and induce nausea, especially when the vinegar was consumed in the form of strange-tasting drinks.1
3. Erosion Of Tooth Enamel
The first thing people warn you about when consuming acidic foods and drinks is damaging your tooth enamel. This fact has been backed by multiple studies.
While this applies mainly to fruit juices and soft drinks, it has been shown that the acetic acid in apple cider vinegar is capable of damaging tooth enamel.
In one study, the tooth enamel from wisdom teeth was left to soak in different kinds of vinegar with a pH value between 2.7 and 3.95. All these vinegars caused a 1–20% loss of minerals from the wisdom teeth within a short time frame of 4 hours.2
While this study was conducted in a laboratory and not inside the mouth where saliva counters acidity, experts still believe that large doses of apple cider vinegar are responsible for causing dental erosion.
In another study, a 15-year-old girl suffered from severe dental decay as a result of her daily habit of drinking a cup of undiluted apple cider vinegar in order to lose weight.3
4. Throat Burns
Apple cider vinegar may lead to painful esophageal (throat) burns.
A review on harmful liquids that were accidentally swallowed by young children stated that the acetic acid content in vinegar turned out to be the most common cause of throat burns.
Researchers now suggest that adults ought to consider vinegar to be a “potent caustic substance” and should remember to keep it safely out of a child’s reach.4
While there are no cases of apple cider vinegar itself causing throat burns, one study reported throat burns caused by apple cider vinegar tablets being stuck in a woman’s throat. The woman reported severe pain and could not swallow properly for nearly 6 months after the unfortunate incident.5
5. Skin Burns
It’s a no-brainer that apple cider vinegar acts as an acid. Hence, when applied topically, it is very likely to cause skin burns. So many people have reported skin burns after using apple cider vinegar to cure various issues.
A 14-year-old girl reported erosions on her nose after she applied apple cider vinegar to help her get rid of two moles.6
In another case, a 6-year-old boy suffered from leg burns after his mother applied apple cider vinegar on his legs to treat his infection (mollusca contagiosa).7
6. Interference With Other Medications
If you’re on medication and are consuming apple cider vinegar, know that the latter may interfere with the effect of the drugs you’re taking. Here are some of the common medications whose efficacy has been known to be hampered by apple cider vinegar:
- Diabetes medication: When used together, insulin-stimulating medication and apple cider vinegar may have a dangerous effect on potassium or blood sugar levels.
- Digoxin: This medication aims at lowering the potassium levels in your blood. If you use it and consume apple cider vinegar at the same time, your blood potassium may experience a dramatic drop.
- Some diuretic drugs: Diuretic medications aim at forcing the body to excrete potassium. Using these along with apple cider vinegar would be potentially dangerous because it will result in your potassium levels to drop too low.
7. Reduced Potassium Levels And Bone Loss
There are no controlled studies on how apple cider vinegar affects bone health and blood potassium levels. However, a recent case that reported low blood potassium and bone loss attributed the problems to the regular consumption of very high doses of apple cider vinegar over a prolonged course of time.
A woman aged 28 years who had consumed around 250 ml of apple cider vinegar diluted in water, every day for 6 years, was admitted to the hospital for reporting dangerously low levels of potassium and other abnormalities in her overall blood chemistry. Additionally, the patient was also diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition of brittle bones that is a rare occurrence in people of so young an age.
Her doctors believe that it was the high dose of apple cider vinegar that led to the leaching of the essential minerals from her bones to buffer the acidity of her blood. They also reported that high acid levels may significantly bring down the rate of formation of new bones.
It is important to note, however, that this is a specific case simply because the doses of apple cider vinegar are so much higher than the smaller doses that most people have on a daily basis. Also, these high doses were taken every day for a period of 6 years.
How To Consume Apple Cider Vinegar Safely
It is possible for most of us to safely consume apple cider vinegar as long as the doses are within reason, by following these general guidelines:
- Start small: If you’re new to apple cider vinegar, start with a small amount every day and gradually work your way up to no more than 2 tablespoons or 30 ml a day, depending on how much you can tolerate.
- Minimize tooth exposure: Dilute the vinegar in some water and drink the solution using a straw. This way you can limit exposing your tooth enamel to the acetic acid in the vinegar.
- Rinse your mouth: Rinse your mouth well with water after consuming apple cider vinegar. To prevent further enamel damage, hold on for at least 30 minutes before you brush your teeth.
- Avoid if you have gastroparesis: Either avoid apple cider vinegar or consume no more than 1 teaspoon (5 ml) in salad dressings or water.
- Be aware of allergies: Although allergies to apple cider vinegar are rare, you may experience a strange reaction after consuming apple cider vinegar, especially if you’re new to it. In such a case, stop taking it immediately and see a doctor for a further explanation.
|↑1||Darzi, J., G. S. Frost, R. Montaser, J. Yap, and M. D. Robertson. “Influence of the tolerability of vinegar as an oral source of short-chain fatty acids on appetite control and food intake.” International Journal of Obesity 38, no. 5 (2014): 675-681.|
|↑2||Willershausen, Ines, Veronika Weyer, Daniel Schulte, Felix Lampe, Stephan Buhre, and Brita Willershausen. “In vitro study on dental erosion caused by different vinegar varieties using an electron microprobe.” Clinical laboratory 60, no. 5 (2014): 783-790.|
|↑3||Gambon, D. L., H. S. Brand, and E. C. Veerman. “Unhealthy weight loss. Erosion by apple cider vinegar.” Nederlands tijdschrift voor tandheelkunde 119, no. 12 (2012): 589-591.|
|↑4||Nuutinen, M., M. Uhari, T. Karvali, and K. Kouvalainen. “Consequences of caustic ingestions in children.” Acta Paediatrica 83, no. 11 (1994): 1200-1205.|
|↑5||Hill, Laura L., Logan H. Woodruff, Jerald C. Foote, and Morela Barreto-Alcoba. “Esophageal injury by apple cider vinegar tablets and subsequent evaluation of products.” Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105, no. 7 (2005): 1141-1144.|
|↑6||Feldstein, Stephanie, Maryam Afshar, and Andrew C. Krakowski. “Chemical Burn from Vinegar Following an Internet-based Protocol for Self-removal of Nevi.” Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology 8, no. 6 (2015).|
|↑7||Bunick, Christopher G., Jason P. Lott, Christine B. Warren, Anjela Galan, Jean Bolognia, and Brett A. King. “Chemical burn from topical apple cider vinegar.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 67, no. 4 (2012): e143-e144.|