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Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits, Uses, Dosage, and Safety

Written by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

Reviewed by Anthony Dugarte, MD 

Last Updated on May 31, 2021

Apple cider vinegar, or ACV, has many possible health benefits, but at this time the studies are too small to draw any real conclusions.

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Apple Cider Vinegar Benefits, Uses, Dosage, and Safety
Photo by WellnessVerge

The use of apple cider vinegar, or ACV, has increased in popularity over the past several years.

It is often used in cooking but is now taken by many in liquid or supplement form for its claimed health benefits.

Some of the most commonly touted health benefits reported include weight loss, lower cholesterol, and reduced blood sugar levels.

Traditionally, ACV has been used for centuries for its potential antimicrobial and antioxidant effects.

This article details the possible health benefits of ACV, when and how to take it, and what the research tells us.

What Is Apple Cider Vinegar?

Apple cider vinegar is made by adding yeast to apple juice. Adding yeast to the juice ferments the sugar and turns it into alcohol.

Bacteria then turn the alcohol into acetic acid. This acetic acid is what gives vinegar its strong taste and smell.

ACV is added to salad dressings, marinades, and in many other food products as a preservative to prevent spoilage.

Since ACV is highly acidic, it kills the bacteria in food that may cause food spoilage, lengthening its shelf-life.

More recently, there has been much interest in other uses for apple cider vinegar to improve health.

There is a substance specifically in organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar called the “mother.”

The mother contains a strand of proteins, enzymes, and healthy bacteria that give the vinegar a murky appearance.

Some say the mother is responsible for its purported health benefits, although this has not been proven.

Health Benefits of Apple Cider Vinegar

There are several possible apple cider vinegar benefits in the research. Some of these include:

1. Weight Loss

Some say consuming apple cider vinegar immediately before or with a meal may have a satiating effect. Because of this, proponents claim it can support weight loss.

A small 12-week study was done in Japan where participants took either 0, 1, or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar per day on a calorie-restricted diet.

Those taking the ACV had increased weight loss and a reduced appetite.

The results were dependent on the dose given, with those receiving the higher dose achieving more results.

However, it was noted that once participants stopped taking apple cider vinegar, they no longer lost weight.

Summary:
While taking ACV may lead to weight loss in some people, larger studies are needed to prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

2. Lower Blood Sugar Levels

One in 10 Americans is currently diagnosed with diabetes. With diabetes, your blood sugar levels tend to run high.

Lifestyle changes and prescription medications are often prescribed to manage diabetes and prevent complications.

There has been some research into the role of apple cider vinegar in reducing blood sugar levels. But there have only been a few small studies done so far.

A review of the existing research shows some promise that taking 1–2 tablespoons of ACV may help reduce blood sugar spikes after meals and lower HgA1C levels, a measurement of your blood sugars over a 3-month period.

Summary:
Taking 1–2 tablespoons of ACV may help lower blood sugar levels in those with diabetes, but studies are too small to make a generalized recommendation to everyone.

3. Lower Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol levels in the body can increase your risk of heart disease. There are claims that apple cider vinegar can lower your cholesterol levels.

There is one animal study that showed reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels, another marker of inflammation and heart disease risk.

Most of the limited research on apple cider vinegar and cholesterol levels has been done in animals only. The results seen in animals do not always translate to humans.

Summary:
If you have high cholesterol levels, apple cider vinegar has not been shown to be an effective method to manage it. What is more effective is following a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, exercising regularly, and taking medication prescribed by your doctor.

Dosage and How to Take Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar can be taken in several ways, depending on your preference. You can drink it or take in a pill or gummy form.

Drinking Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people take a daily apple cider vinegar “shot” in liquid form. However, ACV on its own is highly acidic, and so for many people, it isn’t easy to drink it straight.

The dosage recommended is 1–2 tablespoons daily diluted in a full glass of water.

Most of the studies on ACV have used at least this amount to yield any health benefits.

Apple Cider Vinegar Pills

Apple cider vinegar pills contain a dehydrated form of the liquid. There is not much research done specifically on ACV pills, so a standard dose is not available.

Many pills contain 450–500mg of ACV per pill, which equals about 2 tablespoons.

Additionally, the dosage recommendation for many ACV supplements is even more than this at 1–3 pills per day. There is no evidence that taking this much provides any additional benefit.

Apple Cider Vinegar Gummies

If you don’t like taking pills, apple cider vinegar is also available in gummy form.

However, just like in pill form, there is not much research on its effectiveness compared to liquid form.

It is also typically available in doses of 450–500mg per gummy, similar to the pill form.

Some ACV gummies also contain added sugar, which can negate any potential benefits of lowering blood sugar levels.

Side Effects and Safety

There are no specific studies investigating the side effects of apple cider vinegar, but there are anecdotal reports.

Possible long-term side effects reported include tooth erosion if undiluted in liquid form, indigestion, and low potassium levels. Therefore, it should be diluted with water to prevent these side effects.

There was a report of one woman who developed low potassium levels and osteoporosis after taking 250 ml, or 32 tablespoons, of apple cider vinegar daily for 6 months.

It is important to note this risk as this is a standard dose in many ACV supplements.

Additionally, it should never be applied to the skin as it could cause chemical burns even after just one use.

The Bottom Line

In general, apple cider vinegar appears to be safe in moderate doses of 1–2 tablespoons per day. The safest way to take it is via liquid form diluted in water, as you can control the dose.

However, it is likely not a magic bullet to improve your health.

If you want to lose weight or reduce your blood sugar, a well-balanced carbohydrate-controlled diet and regular exercise are better ways to go.

Just adding ACV to your routine probably won’t result in any significant results without other lifestyle changes.

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