It’s hard to believe that winter is coming. Except for those people who live in the temperate part of this country, there certainly has been a change in the temperature. With sudden change in temperature and inclement weather, colds soon follow. I have already seen a significant increase in people around me suffering with upper respiratory tract infections.
In a double-blind placebo controlled study published a few months ago, it was noted that individuals given supplemental vitamin C had significantly fewer colds and a significantly shorter duration of severe symptoms compared to the placebo group. Consequently, volunteers in the treatment group were less likely to get a cold and recover faster if infected. Other studies, however, have not clearly confirmed that vitamin C reduces overall incidence of common cold episodes. Two years ago, two reviewers analyzed thirty separate trials in the use of vitamin C for colds. The reviewers’ overall impression was that there is modest benefit in reducing the duration of cold symptoms from ingestion of relatively high doses of vitamin C (1 gram or higher).
What else is vitamin C good for?
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a powerful anti-oxidant and clearly has additional benefits other than helping to prevent the common cold. There have been numerous studies in medical literature indicating that it can be beneficial for cardiovascular disease. Vitamin C is critical in the formation of collagen, an integral part of maintaining the health of blood vessels and the skin. Vitamin C has been shown to decrease spasms in coronary arteries leading to angina. In a study, people treated with 500 mg of ascorbic acid daily had a significant reduction in restenosis of post-angioplasty coronary arteries.
Vitamin C is also involved in many other important functions of the body.
For example, in a double-blind study involving seventy five men who smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, those individuals who took a daily supplement of 1000 mg (1 gram) of ascorbic acid resulted in a significant decrease in blood lead levels which can be extremely harmful to the body. Individuals who smoke are much more likely to have a relative deficiency of vitamin C. Long term administration of high doses of vitamin C in clinical trials suggested it may substantially reduce the development of age related cataracts. Other clinical trials have shown that vitamin C can inhibit some forms of cancer. Vitamin C can also have beneficial effects when it comes to allergies since it is involved in histamine metabolism. A deficiency of vitamin C can lead to the loss of energy, and is also extremely important in wound healing.
Can’t tolerate high doses of vitamin C?
A common complaint that many people report is that high doses of vitamin C (in excess of 1000 mg a day) causes gastrointestinal upset and, in some cases, diarrhea. There is clearly a way around this in a special form of vitamin C called Ester C. This product is pH neutral and is extremely well tolerated. Ester C has the additional benefit of a substantially longer half-life (the time it takes the body to halve the amount of a material taken in). Plain ascorbic acid has a half-life in the body of only two or three hours whereas Ester C provides benefits for approximately ten hours. It is, in essence, four times more powerful than regular vitamin C. 500 mg of Ester C is equivalent to taking 2000 mg of ascorbic acid. By taking Ester C twice daily, you have ‘round the clock coverage. Linus Pauling, who won Nobel prizes for Chemistry and for Peace, took several grams daily of vitamin C for decades and lived into his nineties functioning to the very end.