Vitamin C as a Cold Remedy

What Is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, commonly also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin found in many fresh fruits and vegetables. It is an essential vitamin for us since it is not synthesized in humans and deficiency has been linked to potentially fatal disease, scurvy. Vitamin C is also necessary for multiple physiologic functions, including formation of collagen, catecholamines and carnitine, in addition to tyrosine metabolism and peptide synthesis. Vitamin C is also known as highly effective antioxidant and is one of the most commonly used dietary supplements for immune stimulation.

Multiple of controlled trials have examined the effect of vitamin C supplementation on the prevention and treatment of common cold. So far the results have been more or less contradictory. Even though there is no bullet proof scientific evidence that vitamin C would affect the replication of viruses causing common cold in vivo, there is evidence showing that vitamin C supplementation decreases the incidence, severity and duration of common cold symptoms in some. Especially those under physical stress and those exposed to strenuous physical exercise or cold weather have shown reduction in common cold incidence. Vitamin C has also been shown to be of benefit in patients with pneumonia and bronchitis especially in elderly.

RDA for vitamin C is approx. 100 milligrams per day for adults and 25-50 milligrams per day for children (depending of country you live in). It is noteworthy that RDA is based primarily on the prevention of deficiency disease rather than the prevention of chronic disease and the promotion of optimum health. Best food sources for vitamin C are fruits, berries and vegetables. For example citrus fruits and juices, strawberries, cranberries, broccoli and red peppers all have high vitamin C content.

Supplemental vitamin C is available in many forms. There is little or no scientific evidence that any one form is better absorbed or more effective than another.  Most scientific studies are made using ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate. And even though some instances may disagree, there are also no known differences in biological activities or bioavailability of natural and synthetic vitamin C.

How to get rid of a cold with vitamin C 

As vitamin C is water soluble and excess amounts are rapidly flushed from the body, the danger of overdosing is minimal. In fact multiple studies support the usage of high doses of vitamin C when used as a cold and flu remedy. Some nutritionists recommend taking 750mg daily during the cold or flu season and raising the amount to 1 gram (1000mg) at the first sign of symptoms. For best results vitamin C should be evenly divided during the waking hours.

Former Linus Pauling (sometimes referred as the “Father of vitamin C”) recommended taking thousands of milligrams (eg. 2-3 grams) of vitamin C in evenly divided doses as soon as cold or flu symptoms occur. According to Pauling, vitamin C should be taken up to “bowel tolerance”. After having loosened stool (just short of diarrhea), the vitamin C dosage should be reduced by about 25 percent. In case of another loose stool dosage should be reduced again, but if the symptoms begin to return, the dosage should be increased again. For more advice how to fight a cold with megadose of vitamin C, please check tips in here.

Fortunately, vitamin C is one of the least toxic substances known to man. It has also been tested to such an extent for toxicity that it can safely be recommended to be used as cold and flu remedy, even in high doses for short period of time.

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