For everything ACV has going for it, it also comes with a whole host of negative side-effects you should know before consuming it. Like most things, too much of anything has its disadvantages.
1. Delayed stomach emptying
While there are numerous studies that show ACV is effective at regulating insulin and blood sugar levels, further studies have also suggested that part of the mechanism behind this is a delayed gastric emptying rate.
This is not a major concern for most people, but those with type 1 diabetes could experience a worsening of gastroparesis, a condition where food sits too long in the stomach, causing bloating, reflux, and nausea. Furthermore, this can make blood sugar regulation more difficult for these individuals (1).
Verdict: So long as you’re not suffering from type 1 diabetes, you shouldn’t need to worry about delayed stomach emptying!
2. Digestive effects
Consuming some ACV to suppress your appetite may sound tempting for those watching their weight, but a separate study suggests that this effect is a result of nausea caused by poor tolerability to the vinegar (2)!
Verdict: ACV might be worth a shot if you’re willing to potentially feel nauseous after. You might be lucky and not experience it at all!
3. Low potassium levels
One case study showed a 28-year old woman who drank 8 ounces of ACV a day for 6 years and developed hypokalemia, where potassium levels are very low and can’t be accounted for by an existing disease.
Doctors believe this was likely due to her consuming such large quantities of ACV for a prolonged time (3). More research is required to investigate this effect.
Verdict: While only one case study has shown someone to experience low potassium levels, it’s probably best to not drink this much ACV!
4. Bone loss
As if dangerously low potassium levels weren’t enough, the same women mentioned above also showed signs of osteoporosis, or brittle bones, a condition very rarely seen in younger people. The high acidity from drinking so much vinegar also meant it was very difficult for new bones to form.
Verdict: Bone loss plus low potassium levels? Be sure not to over-consume ACV!
5. Erode tooth enamel
Remember how ACV can whiten your teeth? The side effect of using vinegar and other acids like this on your teeth is that it will erode teeth enamel, causing more harm than good in the long term (4).
Even those who are just drinking it for the health benefits may experience enamel erosion, so if you’re determined to drink ACV, be sure to dilute it and clean your teeth after (5).
Verdict: So long as you brush your teeth after drinking ACV, don’t worry too much about eroding your enamel! Maybe take a pass on trying to whiten your teeth with it though.
6. Throat burns
ACV contains acetic acid, and acids burn. Research shows that acetic acid is the most commonly drunk acid by children and suggested that it should be stored in baby-safe containers to prevent throat burns from drinking it (6).
While there are no documented cases of throat burns from drinking ACV, there was a case study of a woman who was taking ACV capsules where it got lodged in her throat and experienced pain and difficulty swallowing for 6 months after (7).
Verdict: Keep ACV away from children and be sure to take capsules carefully. You should be able to avoid throat burns from ACV.
7. Skin burns
More on the acidic nature of ACV, if used incorrectly on the skin you can experience chemical burns. A report outlined how an adolescent followed a recipe online to remove a mole using ACV, giving themselves chemical burns in the process (8).
It may prove wise to leave your skincare products to the formulators who know what they’re doing.
Verdict: Unless you know the exact percentage and amount of acid you’re putting on your face, stick to commercially made skincare!
8. Drug interactions
There is little information regarding drug interactions with ACV. As such, it is recommended that you consult with your doctor before trying to use ACV as a treatment for any health concerns.
Those who take medication for blood sugar levels, insulin, digestion, or even potassium levels should be especially careful given the disadvantages listed above.
Verdict: Consult your doctor before taking ACV for health benefits! You can’t be too safe.
9. Kidney disease
Those with an existing kidney disease should be especially wary of consuming acidic things like ACV. Your kidneys may not be capable of effectively filtering and dealing with the increased acidity which could cause other health problems (9).
Verdict: Unless you’re drinking more than the recommended amount of ACV per day and/or you have existing kidney problems, don’t be too concerned about this one.
10. Exacerbate heartburn
Despite being touted as an at-home heartburn treatment, diets with highly acidic foods and drinks can exacerbate it! Much like the claim that ACV can prevent heartburn, evidence for this side-effect is also only anecdotal. The jury is still out on whether ACV is good or bad for those who suffer from heartburn.
Verdict: With ACV showing both benefits and side-effects related to heartburn, you’re probably better off sticking to treatments with proven efficacy!