Vitamin C overconsumption

Hello, I’ve tried a couple of different products and would like to stick to Huel because it has the fewest unnecessary additives, no soy, no milk, tastes good (I mix 1:3 vanilla with natural) and I like the price.

However, I do not understand why you add 375% NRV of vitamin C (on 2000 kcal diet). The other products have something like 100-150%. As you mentioned in other posts it shouldn’t matter, but it certainly does to me-- I get a couple of small localized red spots at random places which are itchy and annoying. The itchiness is not too strong and stays like 30 mins after eating. The worst is when it happens on the face eg cheek or nose. Then I’m walking with a red cheek. I think that this comes from vitamin C because I get exactly the same symptoms if eat more than two a day of eg bananas, oranges and tomatoes. So a banana and a tomato a day is ok, but 2 tomatoes and a banana is usually too much. To “heal” I avoid vitamin C for a couple of days and the symptoms disappear so that I can come back to my 2 portions a day.

I would like Huel to become on average 80% of my food, but the vitamin C overdose is preventing it. Moreover, I’m tall so need around 2500 kcal to keep my weight so this makes it even worse.

Vitamin C – The ascorbic acid – the name for vitamin C – is synthetically produced in Huel’s vitamin mineral blend. We feel the NRV for vitamin C is too low and that there are health advantages to having higher amounts, as well as the fact that it helps promote iron bioavailability, which is why we’ve included it in a high amount.


I used to work with someone whose child was getting red spots and he discovered his wife was giving the child one of those “one a day” 1000mg effervescent tablets. As soon as they stopped that the red spots went away.

Thank you for your answer.

I hate those effervescent tablets for the same reason.

I’m not taking any supplements or drugs, drink moderately, don’t smoke, do sports, healthy weight, my junk food intake is close too zero etc. When I’m on Huel my fruit intake has to be zero as well.

I started eating these foods because it’s super convenient and I wanted to make sure that I’m having enough proteins. I’m now aiming for a six pack and it’s like 2/3 done.

As I have mentioned above, sadly this forces me to eat Huel at most once a day. Although on lazy weekends it could as well be 100%. And I can’t be the only one. I don’t think that I’m that special :slight_smile:

This is my little counterargument to your strategy, for now, of sample size 1, but maybe someone else will join the discussion.

I consume about 3g of sodium ascorbate (vitamin C) per day… No ill effects.

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Good for you! The thing is that we’re all a little bit different, even though I belong to the main target group-- white male, under 30, lazy to cook.

This picture (don’t bother with the text) is what I look like the last few days:

Having googled a bit more, it makes perfect sense. Say this website states that “More limited, but concerning, evidence suggests problems with daily doses of just 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C.”

I think it’s clear that I belong to the more sensitive population. So eg yesterday I ate Huel 3 times and chicken breast with veggies for lunch. I take 4 scoops, so I ate
38443/2000300 = 273.6 mg of vitamin C with Huel.

Now veggies were a zucchini, a red pepper and 1/3 of a cucumber. A red pepper contains 242.5 mg of vitamin C so I already got on the dangerous side of > 500 mg.

On the usual weekdays I would prefer the same 3 times Huel + a good canteen lunch. It costs 3-5 eur at my workplace, for the price I find it really good and I don’t have to cook. It’s no Google canteen, but for that you get a main dish, side dish, salad and a piece of fruit. On a typical day I take meat, potatoes, nappa (?) cabbage salad and a banana. This very roughly equals to:
27 (cabbage) + 1.2 * 8.7 (banana) + 1.8 * 14 (potatoes) = 62.4 mg of vitamin C.

I took the low end for potatoes (14-31 mg) and it is hard to judge the actual weight. But if you add a tomato (14 mg) which I was eating with breakfast before Huel, you get almost exactly the RDA of 90 mg for a non-smoking male above 19. One extra orange/banana/tomato was too much for me with that diet.

Other possible problems include:
Abdominal bloating
Kidney stones

My stomach was a little bit upset, I had some cramps and trouble falling asleep, but all of this might be unrelated.

Overdoing something might be even worse than doing too little. From my personal experience, one winter I tried to prevent the flu by eating a clove of garlic a day. People around me weren’t very happy, I guess. Anyhow, I did not get the flu, but I messed up my gall bladder and it took me 2 months to understand what’s wrong. And it was not funny-- bloating, all food was bitter, erectile dysfunction (I was 19 at the time!). Now I still have my gall bladder and know which foods can easily upset it.

Of course, Huel is a company and it’s main goal is to earn money. If 95% of its customers are happy, then no change is necessary. However, if there are 30% of customers who would prefer a more moderate dosage of vitamin C, then an extra variety could be profitable. If I were to eat only Huel and burgers with beer, I guess I would be good too. I think in my case Huel just creates bad incentives: don’t eat the banana which already is included in the lunch, don’t buy that red pepper when you’re cooking. I don’t think that we know everything about nutrition yet, see scurvy, so fresh food should be preferred if possible.

BTW I really like the forum. I browsed before posting, to get an idea and check if if the question’s already been asked. It’s like reddit for food and health, based on Huel as it should be.

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Sorry for some missing links, can only add two per post.

I remembered another recent example of overdose: a colleague said that he’s taking vitamin D during winter to feel better. I went to the pharmacy got some pills as well. Took one, felt a little bit sick and got a rash, Then read a bit about vitamin D and learnt that among the main sources are eggs and fish which I was craving for and eating, even though I usually don’t eat them at all. The body usually knows what’s missing, you just have to listen to it.

2000 kcal of Huel contains 300% NRV of vitamin D. So your skin colour and the number of sunshine hours/season should be taken into account when consuming Huel as well.

My personal conclusion is waiting for the rash and also acne as of today (yay! even when I was a teen had zero problems with my skin) to disappear, then eating Huel at most once every 3 days and cancelling the subscription, since with decreased usage I am stocked up for the next 6 months. Sad because I liked not thinking what to eat and not having to go to the supermarket.

You are aware that the NRV % for vitamin D is actually pointless right? Most need way above it to actually stop a deficiency, especially In UK.

In fact as you’ve already pointed out (abruptly) the NRV is going to depend on the person, I don’t imagine many people will get issues with “higher” amounts of vitamin C, unless they have an impairment stopping the body being able to pee it out. Evidently you’re getting issues and I’m not doubting it, but it’s very uncommon. If it was then we’d all have issues eating vegetables etc wouldn’t we?

If your super paranoid you can buy a UTI pee stick, they show if there is high amounts a ascorbic acid being excreted.

Thanks for the suggestion! Did not know about these.

I did a “clean up” day today, i.e. nothing resembling vitamin C, and feel better. I think I’ll be fine tomorrow. I’m just sad that I won’t be able to binge eat Huel as planned 3 days ago, when the symptoms were not yet apparent. I posted this for myself and for others that might have similar problems. Also, to gauge how common this condition is. Thinking that you’re <1% when it comes to anything is a bit pretentious.

I remembered that my sister had severe allergy to citrus fruit and was not allowed to eat anything of the sort until the age of 5. Maybe I have the same gene which got expressed less. She’s fine now, but I should ask if she’s getting the same symptoms as I am.

Interesting read and I thought a reasonable approach by the OP and the responses too. Great example of why this forum is one of the better ones I visit :slight_smile:

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The reason for the high level of vitamin C is also to support iron bioavailability as discussed here.


Not sure how relevant this is but… In 1980s London one of the “cures” for aids was vitamin C megadose. The idea was that you added a gram a day until you got diarrhoea then dropped back a gram - this was supposed to be your “ideal” dose. Like most other guys I knew back then I tried this and on average we were getting through ten to twelve grams of vitamin C a day, with the only effect attributable to the massive overdose being diarrhoea worse than we were already prone to. I guess what I’m saying is that the overwhelming majority of people can handle even a large surplus of ingredient X which has listed effects 1, 2 and 3 without any problem…

I know this is several months down the line, but have you considered that you may have a problem with the nightshade family? Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines, Potatoes? The only reaction I am aware of to Vitamin C is (as mentioned above) diarrhoea if you consume more in a single dose than your body can use. And that tends to be measured in grams, rather than milligrams.