That cold season is upon us, is abundantly clear so I thought that it would be appropriate to look at the use of Vitamin C to stave off the dreaded common cold. It is a recognised fact that humans need this chemical in our diets to survive, or it wouldn’t be a Vitamin. It is also interesting to note that most mammals manufacture their own and while we have a copy of the gene for this it was deactivated millions of years ago and is a trait we share with the rest of the primates. But I digress.

The recommended daily allowance of Vit. C is 90mg for an adult male and a slightly lower 75mg for a female, about the amount in a glass of orange juice. I must say we have two bottles of Vitamin C tablets at home, each tablet contains 500mg of active ingredient and the instructions recommend taking 2-8 a day. Up to 4g of Vitamin C, that’s 45 times the amount you need. Such large amounts is called mega-dosing and is the suggested way to get the supposed added benefits of vitamin C, over and above keeping scurvy at bay I mean.

Most people have heard that taking the vitamin will help prevent colds but I’m afraid that the medical literature just does not back this up. At most the duration of a cold may be marginally reduced, by perhaps 10%. In addition to this the very act of taking these high doses can actually stimulate the kidneys to flush it from your body, so it seems that the money spent on buying the tablets is quite literally going down the toilet. I’ve occasionally been accused of pissing my money away but this is ridiculous.

Resources

http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/DSH/colds.html

http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/309/6956/719?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Vitamin+C&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=10&resourcetype=HWCIT

http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/959704173.html

http://www.hortresearch.co.nz/index/news/503