Apple cider vinegar is a type of vinegar made from fermented apple juice. Manufacturers often add it to certain foods as a natural flavoring or preservative.
Research suggests that apple cider vinegar (ACV) may have potential health benefits when people consume it medicinally.
In this article, we outline the science behind these possible benefits. We also provide guidelines on dosages and list the potential side effects and risks of consuming ACV.
As a food ingredient, ACV is generally safe for most people to consume daily. Manufacturers often add ACV to salad dressings, marinades, and other condiments.
Some people may question the potential risks of ACV if people consume it in larger doses. However, there is currently little research that examines these effects.
Medical professionals do know that side effects can occur if someone drinks neat ACV or applies it to the skin.
In general, a person should consume or use ACV in moderation.
The purported health benefits of ACV and other types of vinegar are due to the main ingredient: acetic acid. A 2016 review found that drinking 15 milliliters (ml) or 1 tablespoon of acetic acid daily is usually enough for a person to see potential health benefits.
However, the exact recommended dosage depends partly on the condition that someone wishes to treat. Below is a list of health conditions that ACV may help manage, alongside information on recommended dosages.
A person should talk to their doctor before they add extra ACV to their diet or consume larger doses for medical purposes. It may not be suitable for certain people due to its potential to interact with some medications.
Blood glucose control
The authors conclude that vinegar may be a beneficial add-on treatment to help control blood glucose levels. However, the review did not specifically investigate the role of ACV.
A 2004 study found that ACV helps improve postmeal insulin sensitivity in people with insulin resistance. The authors suggest that the acetic acid in ACV may have physiological effects similar to those of the diabetes medications acarbose and metformin.
The study outlines the following ACV recipe, which participants drank 2 minutes before consuming food:
- 20 grams (g) apple cider vinegar
- 40 g water
- 1 teaspoon sugar or sweetener
Overall, the research findings indicate that ACV has the potential to affect blood glucose and insulin. As such, a person who has diabetes or other blood glucose control issues should talk to their healthcare provider before they use ACV medicinally.
A person should also never use ACV as a replacement for prescribed diabetes medications.
The researchers split the participants into three groups. Each person drank a 250 ml beverage twice a day, once after breakfast and once after dinner. The drink contained either 0 ml, 15 ml, or 30 ml of ACV.
Those who drank the ACV had a modest weight loss of 1–2 kilograms (kg) throughout the 3-month study. They also showed reductions in BFM and blood lipid levels.
A 2018 trial investigated the effects of ACV in 44 people with overweight or obesity. These outcomes included:
- weight management
- visceral fat, which is the fat stored around the abdominal organs
- blood lipid levels
All participants ate a reduced calorie diet over the 12-week study. Some also consumed 15 ml of ACV twice per day with salad. The researchers found that those who had the ACV experienced more health benefits than those who did not. These benefits included reductions in:
The authors conclude that a reduced calorie diet combined with ACV could help improve health outcomes in people with overweight or obesity. However, further studies with more participants are necessary to confirm these findings.
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
According to the Office on Women’s Health, PCOS is a common but treatable cause of infertility that affects 1 in 10 women of childbearing age.
A 2013 study notes that impaired insulin sensitivity may be a potential cause of PCOS in some females. As ACV appears to improve insulin sensitivity, the researchers set out to investigate whether ACV could help treat PCOS.
Seven participants with PCOS drank a beverage with 15 g of ACV daily for 90–110 days. At follow-up, six showed improved insulin sensitivity, and four experienced improvements in their menstrual cycles.
The researchers suggest that ACV may help promote ovarian function by improving insulin sensitivity in females with PCOS. However, further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.
There are some concerns about the safety and potential side effects of ACV. The risks mostly revolve around skin irritation and tooth enamel erosion.
Dermatologists warn that applying neat ACV to the skin can result in irritation.
People should always dilute ACV in water or oil before they administer it to their skin. A person should also perform a patch test on a small area of their skin to check for any reaction before they apply the mixture more extensively.
Tooth enamel erosion
Dentists advise that consuming ACV can damage tooth enamel. Higher concentrations of ACV or long-term consumption of ACV is likely to increase this risk.
To help reduce the risk of tooth enamel erosion, a person should dilute vinegar in plenty of water before consumption. Afterward, it may be helpful to rinse the mouth out with plain water or mouthwash.
ACV can interact with certain drugs, such as diuretics and diabetes medications.
A person who takes medication should talk to their healthcare provider before they use medicinal ACV or add extra ACV to their diet.
In some cases, ACV supplementation may not be suitable for a person. In these instances, a healthcare provider may be able to recommend a safer alternative.
Research shows that ACV may help control blood glucose and insulin levels and that it could help treat PCOS in some women. Some studies also suggest that ACV could provide modest results if someone wishes to manage their weight.
Most research recommends a daily dosage of approximately 1–2 tablespoons of ACV, mixed in water. However, exact dosages vary according to the condition. Modest doses are generally safe to consume, though they may increase the risk of tooth enamel erosion.
People should also be aware that ACV can interact with certain medications, including diuretics and diabetes medications.
In general, people who take any medication should consult with their healthcare provider before they take ACV or any other dietary supplement.