September 11, 2008
Vitamin C Has Many Helpful Benefits, Few Side Effects
By Amy Donaldson Deseret News
I woke up with a sore throat and a bad attitude last week.
I do not have time to be sick!
I went months without any kind of cold, and then to have two within weeks of each other, well, it was very discouraging.
So I immediately began doubling my daily intake of Emergen-C. Normally I take a packet in the morning and a packet at night. Sometimes, after a run of more than six miles or so, I take a packet before and after the run to deal with an occasional post-run headache.
By the second day, the cold was worse, but my resolve to beat it remained. I took six packets a day, in bottles of water, and by the fourth day,
the cold had gotten much better. Six days after that first sore throat, I am almost symptom-free.
As I was driving home one night this week, I heard a radio commercial for a vitamin C supplement. What I found interesting is that it cited two studies that found higher doses of vitamin C can lengthen your life, help with PMS, and are a natural anti- inflammatory. Seriously, can this be true? And was it possible to overdose on vitamin C?
So I did some research. At first, I was more confused than ever as different studies and scientists offered different opinions.
But I did find some of what I was looking for. First, if you take more vitamin C than your body needs, you will just get rid of it.
"You really can't overdose on water-soluble vitamins," said Ken Hollen of Diet and Sport Nutrition, who has become my go-to guy on supplements. "What will happen is that you will get diarrhea."
A person would need to take 10,000 to 13,000 mg to get to that point. I was taking six packets of Emergen-C, which has a lot of other vitamins and minerals in it, but that means I was taking 6,000 mg of vitamin C. (In fact, one article I found said it's best to take vitamin C in conjunction with other vitamins or nutrients because of the synergistic effect that mimics whole food and reduces negative side effects.)
Another article made the point that megadosing any vitamin or mineral can throw your system out of balance, so you should consult a doctor or nutritionist to make sure you don't create a different problem for yourself.
Hollen also pointed out, as did two of the articles I read, that taking vitamin C with calcium ascorbate can buffer your stomach and make sure you don't increase the acidity of your system. Unfortunately, many supplements, including my beloved Emergen-C, use ascorbic acid, which can cause increased acidity.
As for all of those fabulous things that infomercial said vitamin C could do for you, there are studies that show significant impacts on health by increasing the intake of vitamin C. The one I was most interested in was the anti-inflammatory properties. Hollen explained to me that because vitamin C is found in the fluid around the joints and ligaments, it removes some of the inflammatory properties, but it's not significant enough to be taken for that purpose alone.
Interestingly, nearly all of the articles and studies I read said increasing vitamin C even a little bit would most likely make most people feel better.
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