Vitamin C is a common household cold and flu fighter, and clinically I have seen Vitamin C be very effective for treating colds and flus. Yet the studies that have been done on Vitamin C usually show very modest to little effect from Vitamin C. Why?
Because the studies, and most people are using FAR TOO LITTLE vitamin C to be really effective. The pills that most people are getting are usually 500mg-1000mg and most studies I have seen are using under 2000mg a day as treatment protocols.
How to use vitamin C effectively
First you have to find your bowel tolerance. Bowel tolerance is the point at which vitamin C begins to give you loose stools. If you continued taking it and went past your bowel tolerance you would begin to have diarrhea.
The maximum effective dose for vitamin C by mouth is just short of bowel tolerance, this is the maximum amount your body is able to absorb.
Your bowel tolerances can change, and people find their bowel tolerance goes up, sometimes dramatically, when they are sick as their body is using and thus capable of absorbing much more.
Bowel tolerance varies widely among people, being as low as 2000-3000mg for some and up to 15-18,000 mg for others. When sick this can increase pretty dramatically and I have seen people tolerate 30-40,000 grams before.
Ideally you will have a sense of what your bowel tolerance is when you are healthy so you have a sense of how to dose when you get sick.
Let’s say that your bowel tolerance is 8000mg when you are healthy and now you’re sick with a cold or flu.
I recommend you begin with a loading dose of 3-4000mg, and then begin dosing 1000mg every 1-2 hours until you hit bowel tolerance. Let’s say that you hit 15,000mg and begin to notice more flatulence (gas) and some looser stool. You are near your bowel tolerance and you would back off your dosing slightly. Let’s say you’ve been taking 1000mg every hour, once you are near your bowel tolerance you would back off to 1000mg every 2 hours, adjusting up or down as needed to stay just below bowel tolerance.
Continue taking vitamin C until you are over your cold and flu and ideally for 1-2 days after you are feeling better to prevent a relapse.
Which form to use
Since we are using vitamin C as a nutrient-drug in this case, I recommend using a non-food based form of vitamin C to achieve effective dosing.
There’s no need to buy an expensive specialized form of vitamin C for this use, but I would watch cheap vitamin C tablets as they are often full of fillers, binders, coatings, artificial colors and flavorings which at best aren’t helpful. It’s fine to get ascorbic acid with mixed bioflavinoids.
If using chewables, rinse out your mouth afterwards as vitamin C can be tough on your teeth.
Why wouldn’t you take Vitamin C?
Are they any instances when vitamin C would be a bad choice? Mostly if you have a sickness with diarrhea it can be hard to find your bowel tolerance. However if you know your normal bowel tolerance you can still use vitamin C helpfully.
Rumors continue to circulate on the Internet, sometimes from medical sources that should know better, that vitamin C can cause kidney stones. Studies have shown that this is false. And while there are a number of theoretical concerns (vitamin C COULD cause this issue or that issue) there is no evidence that vitamin C causes any of those problems.
High dose vitamin C is one way to help treat colds and flus, one that I have seen be very effective clinically when people take high enough doses consistently. Vitamin C is also cheap and well-tolerated. Next time your sick, give it a try.
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