I must say I have been slightly enraged by this weeks reports in the press regarding Vitamin C and how it will not protect most people from colds. The way the results of the tests have been reported could give all a very negative first impression when the real situation is very positive.
The findings from the National University of Australia and the University of Helsinki are that small doses of Vitamin C could reduce the duration of colds by up to 8% in adults and 13.6% in children. That is a good result seeing that 200mg doses (a small dose) were used, very low for prevention or cure, but an OK dose for general maintenance.
Every alternative practitioner and doctor worth his salt will tell you that you need a much higher dosage for prevention or cure. 200mg a day will take a little strain out of our bodies immune systems on an ongoing basis, but the real situation is this:
Author Professor Harri Hemilä involved in the trials, said: Vitamin C doses reduced the risk of getting a cold by half in those exposed to severe cold or physical stresses. And that there is “tantalising” evidence from one study that very large doses of vitamin C taken at the beginning of a cold might have a useful effect.
I don’t know if Professor Hemilä considered the well know comments of the 1970s, Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Linus Pauling? He encouraged people to take 1,000mg of vitamin C daily to ward off colds.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin which is not stored in our bodies. We need new supplies EVERY DAY. We need those new supplies very regularly as this Vitamin is a very significant one for our normal health. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 60mg a day. The average intake is 100mg per day. If you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables you could achieve 200mg. According to Schuyler W. Lininger, the author of many books on the subject, the optimal intake is somewhere between 1000 and 3000mg. The ODA (Optimum Daily Allowance) is set at the mid-point of 2,000mg. The shortfall between a good diet (200mg) and the ODA (2000mg) is 1,800mg. This is the kind of level worth supplementing.
So for prevention of illness we should up that to around 1g per day, and for cure, eg if you get a cold you should try 1g every 4 hours for the first day or even 2. It is at these doses the recent trials should have been carried out, not a small dose that most of us know will not show any significant prevention or cure results.
How does Vitamin C affect us?
Vitamin C is necessary for a healthy immune system, to fight colds, infections and illness generally. It is useful in protecting us from strokes and cataracts, and helps the healing process of wounds and after surgery. It is a powerful antioxidant. This protects you from the damage caused by free radicals. (The toxins in our bodies which are responsible for many diseases and contribute significantly to our general ageing and degeneration).
Vitamin C, an insurance policy
Vit C also acts like a buffer for our system at times of stress. For example, if we have a bump or bang, bad news, shock or accident, it takes it our of our bodies, our systems gobble up our resources leaving us momentarily depleted of vitamins, our immune system is low and we are susceptible to colds and minor infections, mouth ulcers, headaches etc, ie we have a low ebb and our bodies pay for it in these small ways. If we take Vit C it can boost our system all the time. It gives us a little extra resilience to play with particularly beneficial at such times following injury or stress, (even in a minor way). In such a way it will prevent some of the symptoms which we may otherwise incur. We should take extra Vit C after a bereavement, after a prang in our cars, after a fall, emotional unrest etc. Check it for yourselves, you often catch a cold after such events or show other signs of physical stress, Vit C is just a support to your body in these situations.
Need for caution?
As vitamin C is water soluble, we discard daily what we don’t need, there is little danger of an overdose or ill effects. If anything you may get a little diarrhea at large doses, but this will cease if you reduce the dose a little. Extremely high doses for prolonged periods, may contribute to kidney stones. So only dose up over 4g for short specific periods of illness. Do not take vitamin C if you have kidney problems or after intestinal surgery.