I’ve been a big Vitamin C fan for many years now and swear it helps my immune system. So I had to check this out:
Vitamin C pretty useless when it comes to colds
Excerpts from the report:
We sought to discover whether vitamin C in doses of 200 mg or more daily (Figure 1) reduces the incidence, duration, or severity of the common cold when used either as continuous prophylaxis or after the onset of cold symptoms.
I take about 1100 mg per day.
Incidence was not altered in the subgroup of 23 community studies where prophylactic doses as high as 2 g daily were used. But a subgroup of six studies of marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers exposed to significant cold and/or physical stress experienced, on average, 50% reduction in common cold incidence.
Duration of cold episodes that occurred during prophylaxis was significantly reduced in both children and adults.
The clinical significance of the minor reduction in duration of common cold episodes experienced during prophylaxis is questionable, although the consistency of these findings points to a genuine biological effect.
Future work on this topic should explore the value of high dose therapy—in particular, in children—and the mechanisms underlying the observed prophylaxis benefits in those exposed to substantial physical and/or cold stress.
My personal experiment with large doses of Vitamin C began almost 30 years ago after being exposed to the writings of Linus Pauling, in my mind one of the greatest 20th century scientists. Though I never used the massive doses Pauling (and his wife) experimented with – greater than 5000 mg – I’ve found over the years that 1000 mg gives me positive results of increased immunity to common communicable diseases.
An important point in the study is the fact that it seemed to help people under stressful conditions, which normally reduces a person’s immune system to begin with. Most folks will testify that they get sick easier when stressed.
While I concur with the review that taking extra large doses of Vitamin C after the onset of symptoms is pretty useless, no group of scientists can convince me that taking 10-20 times the recommended minimum dose of 60 mg per day will not provide positive results in your immune system. You may be pissing some of it out as your body can only use so much, but ascorbic acid is fairly cheap. Now whether high doses contribute to the formation of kidney stones is one reason why I don’t approach dosage levels used by Pauling.
Finally, if you take Vitamin C, take it religiously. I’ve found that if you stop taking it for a while, your resistance to illness seems to weaken considerably.
Oh, one more thing; I am not a doctor.