Apple cider vinegar has been used in cooking and natural medicine for thousands of years.

Many claim it has health benefits, including weight loss, improved blood sugar levels, relief from indigestion and a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer.

With its many potential uses, it can be difficult to know how much apple cider vinegar to take each day.

This article outlines how much apple cider vinegar you should drink for different health benefits, as well as the best ways to avoid side effects.

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Apple cider vinegar is often recommended as a natural way to control blood sugar levels, especially for people with insulin resistance.

When taken before a high-carb meal, vinegar slows the rate of stomach emptying and prevents large blood sugar spikes (1).

It also improves insulin sensitivity, which helps your body move more glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells, thus lowering blood sugar levels (2).

Interestingly, only a small amount of apple cider vinegar is needed to have these effects.

Four teaspoons (20 ml) of apple cider vinegar before meals have been shown to significantly reduce blood sugar levels after eating (2, 3, 4).

It should be mixed with a few ounces of water and consumed right before a high-carb meal (2, 5).

Apple cider vinegar does not significantly lower blood sugar when taken before a low-carb or high-fiber meal (6).

Summary Drinking four teaspoons (20 ml) of apple cider vinegar diluted in water immediately before a high-carb meal can reduce blood sugar spikes.

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a hormonal condition associated with abnormal menstrual cycles, high levels of androgen hormones, ovarian cysts and insulin resistance (7).

One three-month study found that women with PCOS who drank one tablespoon (15 ml) of apple cider vinegar with 100 ml or about 7 ounces of water immediately after dinner had improved hormone levels and experienced more regular periods (8).

While further research is needed to confirm these results, one tablespoon (15 ml) each day appears to be an effective dose for improving PCOS symptoms.

Summary Regularly drinking one tablespoon (15 ml) of apple cider vinegar with 100 ml or about 7 ounces of water after dinner may improve symptoms of PCOS.

Vinegar may help people lose weight by increasing feelings of fullness and reducing the amount of food eaten throughout the day (9).

In one study, one or two tablespoons (15 or 30 ml) of apple cider vinegar daily for three months helped overweight adults lose an average of 2.6 and 3.7 pounds (1.2 and 1.7 kg), respectively (10).

Two tablespoons each day have also been found to help dieters lose nearly twice as much weight in three months compared to people who didn’t consume apple cider vinegar (11).

You can stir it into a glass of water and drink it before meals or mix it with oil to make a salad dressing.

Apple cider vinegar is more likely to aid weight loss when combined with other diet and lifestyle changes.

Summary Drinking 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) of apple cider vinegar each day for several months may increase weight loss in people who are overweight.

Many people take apple cider vinegar before protein-heavy meals to improve digestion.

The theory is that apple cider vinegar increases the acidity of your stomach, which helps your body create more pepsin, the enzyme that breaks down protein (12).

While there is no research to support the use of vinegar for digestion, other acidic supplements, such as betaine HCL, can significantly increase the acidity of the stomach (13).

Acidic foods like apple cider vinegar may have similar effects, but more research is needed.

Those who take apple cider vinegar for digestion typically drink one to two tablespoons (15–30 ml) with a glass of water immediately before meals, but there is currently no evidence to support this dose.

Summary Some claim drinking one to two tablespoons (15–30 ml) of apple cider vinegar before meals can aid digestion. However, there is currently no research to support this practice.

Other popular reasons for taking apple cider vinegar include protecting against heart disease, reducing the risk of cancer and fighting infection.

There is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, and no recommended dosages for humans are available.

Animal and test-tube studies suggest that vinegar may reduce the risk of heart disease, fight cancer and slow the growth of bacteria, but no studies have been performed in humans (14, 15, 16).

Several studies have found that people who regularly eat salads with vinegar-based dressings tend to have a lower risk of heart disease and less belly fat, but this could be due to other factors (11, 17).

More human research is needed to understand the best dose of apple cider vinegar for general health and wellness.

Summary There is no evidence that apple cider vinegar can protect against heart disease, cancer or infection in humans, so no dosage recommendations can be made.

Apple cider vinegar is relatively safe to consume but can cause side effects in some people.

Since apple cider vinegar’s acidity is responsible for many of its health benefits, be sure not to mix it with anything that could neutralize the acid and reduce its positive effects (18).

Keep in mind that vinegar’s acidity may also damage tooth enamel with regular use. Drinking through a straw and rinsing your mouth with water afterward can help prevent this (19).

While drinking apple cider vinegar is associated with health benefits, consuming large amounts (8 ounces or 237 ml) every day for many years can be dangerous and has been linked to low blood potassium levels and osteoporosis (20).

If you experience uncomfortable side effects after taking apple cider vinegar, such as nausea, burping or reflux, stop taking it and discuss these symptoms with your doctor (21, 22).

Summary Apple cider vinegar is relatively safe in small quantities but may erode tooth enamel or cause stomach upset in some people. Large amounts may be unsafe to consume over long periods of time.

Apple cider vinegar can help manage blood sugar, improve symptoms of PCOS and promote weight loss.

A typical dose is 1–2 tablespoons (15–30 ml) mixed with water and taken before or after meals.

Research doesn't support claims that it can improve digestion and prevent heart disease, cancer or infection.

Apple cider vinegar is a relatively safe supplement to consume in moderation but has not been extensively researched.

Future studies may reveal more potential uses and benefits and help clarify the most effective dosages.