Apple cider vinegar is a natural tonic. It has several health benefits that are supported by scientific studies in humans. However, people have also raised concerns about whether it is safe and possible side effects. This article reviews the possible side effects of apple cider vinegar.
What is Apple Cider Vinegar?
Apple cider vinegar is produced from the mixture of apples with yeast. Once the yeast is mixed, it converts the sugar from apples into alcohol. Then, bacteria are added to the mixture, which ferment the alcohol in acetic acid. Acetic acid represents about 5 to 6% of apple cider vinegar. It is classified as a “weak acid,” but still has quite strong acidic properties when concentrated. In addition to acetic acid, vinegar contains water and traces of other acids, vitamins and minerals.
Several studies in animals and humans have found that acetic acid and apple cider vinegar can promote fat burning and weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, increase insulin sensitivity and improve levels of cholesterol.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar is made from acetic acid, which can provide several health benefits. These include weight loss, lower blood sugar and healthier cholesterol levels.
7 Side Effects of Apple Cider Vinegar:
Unfortunately, it has been reported that apple cider vinegar causes some side effects. This is particularly true in large doses. Although small amounts are generally good and healthy, drinking too much can be harmful and even dangerous.
1. Delay in Stomach Emptying:
- Apple cider vinegar helps prevent sudden increases in blood sugar levels by reducing the rate at which food leaves the stomach and enters the lower digestive tract. This delays its absorption in the bloodstream.
- However, this effect can worsen the symptoms of gastroparesis, a common condition in people with type 1 diabetes.
- Gastroparesis causes the nerves in the stomach not to function properly, so food stays in the stomach for too long and does not empty at a normal rate.
- The symptoms of gastroparesis include heartburn, inflammation and nausea. For type 1 diabetics who have gastroparesis, timing insulin with meals is very difficult because it is difficult to predict how long it will take for the food to be digested and absorbed.
- A controlled study looked at 10 patients with type 1 diabetes and gastroparesis.
- Drinking water with 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of apple cider vinegar significantly increased the amount of time that food remained in the stomach, compared to normal water consumption.
Summary: It has been shown that apple cider vinegar slows the rate at which food leaves the stomach. This can make gastroparesis symptoms worse and make blood sugar control more difficult for people with type 1 diabetes.
2. Digestive Side Effects:
- Apple cider vinegar can cause unpleasant digestive symptoms in some people.
- Studies in humans and animals have found that apple cider vinegar and acetic acid can decrease appetite and promote feelings of fullness, which leads to a natural reduction in caloric intake.
- However, a controlled study suggests that in some cases, appetite and food intake may decrease due to indigestion.
- People who consumed a drink containing 25 grams of apple cider vinegar reported less appetite, but also significantly greater sensations of nausea, especially when the vinegar was part of a drink with an unpleasant taste.
Summary: Apple cider vinegar can help reduce appetite, but it can also cause nausea, especially when consumed as part of a bad-tasting drink.
3. Low Levels of Potassium and Bone Loss:
- There are no controlled studies on the effects of apple cider vinegar on blood potassium levels and bone health at this time.
- However, there is a report of a case of decreased blood potassium and bone loss that was attributed to large doses of apple cider vinegar taken over a long period of time.
- A 28-year-old woman consumed 250 ml of apple cider vinegar diluted in water daily for six years. She was admitted to the hospital with low levels of potassium and other abnormalities in blood chemistry. In addition to this, the woman was diagnosed with osteoporosis, a condition of brittle bones that is rarely seen in young people.
- The doctors who treated the woman believe that large daily doses of apple cider vinegar led to the minerals being leached from their bones to cushion the acidity of their blood. They also noted that high levels of acid can reduce the formation of new bone.
- Of course, the amount of apple cider vinegar in this case was much more than most people would consume in a single day – in addition, it did every day for many years.
Summary: There is a case report of low potassium levels and osteoporosis probably caused by drinking too much apple cider vinegar.
4. Erosion of Tooth Enamel:
- Acidic foods and drinks have been shown to damage tooth enamel.
- Non-alcoholic beverages and fruit juices have been studied more extensively, but some research shows that acetic acid in vinegar can also damage tooth enamel.
- In a laboratory study, the tooth enamel was immersed in different vinegars with pH levels ranging from 2.7 to 3.95. Vinegars led to a loss of 1 to 20% of the minerals in the teeth after four hours.
- It is important to note that this study was carried out in a laboratory and not in the mouth, where saliva helps to reduce acidity. However, there is some evidence that large amounts of vinegar can cause tooth erosion.
- The case study also concluded that severe tooth decay of a 15-year-old girl was caused by consuming one cup (237 ml) of undiluted apple cider vinegar per day to aid weight loss.
Summary: Pickled acetic acid can weaken tooth enamel and lead to the loss of minerals and decay.
5. Burns in the Throat:
- Apple cider vinegar has the potential to cause esophageal (throat) burns.
- In a review of harmful liquids accidentally swallowed by children, it was determined that vinegar acetic acid was the acid that most commonly caused throat burns.
- The researchers recommended that vinegar be considered a “potent caustic substance” and kept in childproof containers.
- There are no published cases of throat burns from apple cider vinegar itself.
- However, a case report found that a tablet of apple cider vinegar caused burns after staying in a woman’s throat. The woman said she experienced pain and difficulty swallowing for six months after the incident.
Summary: The acetic acid in apple cider vinegar has caused throat burns in children. A woman experienced throat burns after a tablet of apple cider vinegar lodged in her esophagus.
6. Skin Burns:
- Due to its strongly acidic nature, apple cider vinegar can also cause burns when applied to the skin.
- In one case, a 14-year-old girl developed erosions in her nose after applying several drops of apple cider vinegar to remove two moles, based on a recipe she had seen on the Internet.
- In another case, a 6-year-old boy with multiple health problems developed leg burns after his mother treated his leg infection with apple cider vinegar.
- There are also several anecdotal reports on web pages of burns caused by the application of apple cider vinegar to the skin.
Summary: There have been reports of skin burns that occur in response to the treatment of moles and infections with apple cider vinegar.
7. Drug Interactions:
Some medications may interact with apple cider vinegar:
- Diabetes Medications:People who take vinegar and insulin or medications that stimulate insulin may experience dangerously low blood sugar or potassium levels.
- Digoxin (Lanoxin):This medicine lowers blood potassium levels. Taking it in combination with apple cider vinegar could lower potassium too much.
- Some diuretic medications:Some diuretic medications cause the body to excrete potassium. To prevent potassium levels from decreasing too much, these medications should not be consumed with large amounts of vinegar.
Summary: Some medications may interact with apple cider vinegar, including insulin, digoxin and certain diuretics.
How to Consume Apple Cider Vinegar Safely?
Most people can consume reasonable amounts of apple cider vinegar by following these general guidelines:
- Limit consumption:Start with a smaller amount and gradually increase it to a maximum of 2 tablespoons (30 ml) per day, depending on everyone’s tolerance.
- Minimize dental exposure to acetic acid:Try diluting the vinegar in water and drinking it through a straw.
- Rinse your mouth:Rinse your mouth with water after taking it. To avoid further damage to the enamel, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.
- Consider avoiding it if you have gastroparesis: Avoid apple cider vinegar or limit the amount to 1 teaspoon (5 ml) in water or salad dressing.
- Keep allergies in mind:Apple vinegar allergies are rare, but stop taking it immediately if you experience an allergic reaction.
Summary: To consume apple cider vinegar without taking risks limits daily intake, dilute it and avoid it if you have certain pathological conditions.
Bring the Message Home:
Apple cider vinegar can provide several health benefits. However, to take it without taking risks and prevent side effects, it is important to control the amount you consume and be careful how you take it. While a small amount of vinegar is good, drinking more is not better and can even be harmful.