Apple cider vinegar makes the news for its supposed health benefits, but not everyone is a believer. “I don’t know of great studies in humans—yet,” says Marily Oppezzo, PhD, MS, RD, at the Stanford Prevention Research Center. She explains that the current research is mostly in diabetic mice for blood sugar control. Given the lack of evidence in humans, people should be wary of apple cider vinegar’s possible side effects. Also, make sure you don’t fall for these apple cider vinegar myths.
Due to the acidic nature of apple cider vinegar (ACV), Dr. Oppezzo says, “Drinking apple cider vinegar regularly can lead to tooth enamel erosion.” Weakening tooth enamel leads to decay, then cavities, and then fillings. The risk is highest when a person regularly consumes undiluted apple cider vinegar. One way to protect your teeth: Diluting ACV with water—you can even add a little bit of honey to improve the flavor.
“ACV can delay stomach emptying,” says Dr. Oppezzo. That can lead to bloating, nausea, vomiting, and can cause dangerous drops in blood sugar. People who battle this issue—called gastroparesis—should definitely avoid ACV. One small study of healthy people demonstrated that ACV can slow digestion and lower blood sugar. That could help you stay fuller longer if you’re healthy. But for people with diabetes or gastroparesis, ACV’s effects could be dangerous.
In addition to nausea and indigestion, reports Medical News Today, ACV could also worsen symptoms for people with stomach ulcers or acid reflux. One way to lessen these potential side effects is to dilute ACV by mixing it into salad dressings and marinades. You could also reduce symptoms by consuming a lower amount of ACV.
A German woman who was drinking about a cup a day of ACV (diluted in water and salad dressing) turned up at the local hospital with severe muscle cramping, reported doctors in the journal Nephron. When they examined her, they found that the woman’s bones had weakened—she had osteoporosis. The doctors believe that as her body tried to balance the high acidity of ACV, it was forced to deplete calcium from her bones.
Low levels of potassium
The consumption of ACV may cause potassium levels to drop too low, reports WebMD. Since your muscles and nerves need potassium to function properly, this could be problematic. Even healthy individuals should consider these possible side effects when adding ACV to their diet—but it could be an even bigger issue for individuals with preexisting medical conditions.
There are a few drug interactions you should watch out for, according to RxList. Taking ACV with the heart medication digoxin (brand name: Lanoxin) can dangerously drop potassium levels in the body. Since insulin and diuretics can also lower potassium levels, combining them with ACV can be unsafe. If you are taking these medications, check with your doctor first before adding ACV to your daily diet. Keep an eye out for signs that you’re low in potassium.