Scientific research finds higher doses of vitamin C result in greater beneficial health effects

You may already know that vitamin C can help reduce the duration of a cold, but a new study has found that you can get stronger effects by taking far higher doses of the vitamin than most studies have examined.

Past animal studies across a variety of species have shown vitamin C’s ability to prevent and alleviate viral and bacterial infections, and this effect also carries over into humans. As one of the most common human infections, the common cold is, not surprisingly, one of the most extensively studied infections when it comes to vitamin C’s healing powers. However, most studies look at a dosage that can best be described as moderate: one gram per day. The dosage has already been proven to be effective, but researchers from the University of Helsinki wanted to find out the optimal doses and maximal effects this vitamin can have on the common cold.

The researchers, under the guidance of Dr. Harri Hemila, analyzed the results of two randomized trials that looked at the impact of specific doses of vitamin C on the common cold’s duration. In the first trial, two groups took 3 grams of the vitamin per day, one group took 6 grams per day, and a fourth group was given a placebo. In this study, those who took the 6-gram dosage noted shorter colds by 17 percent compared to the placebo, which was double the effect seen in those who took 3-gram doses.

In the second trial, various groups were given doses of 4 or 8 grams of vitamin C per day or a placebo. This study was different from the first, however, in that the dosage was only given on the first day of the cold. The researchers found that those who took 8 grams per day shortened their colds by 19 percent, which is double that of those who took 4 grams per day.

These findings make it clear that there is a significant, dose-dependent effect. In fact, the dose-response relationship was very linear up to the levels studied, leading the researchers to believe that even higher doses could bring about further reductions in the duration of colds. Dr. Hemila pointed out that some experts have proposed that doses of vitamin C higher than 15 grams per day are optimal for cold treatment, yet randomized trials typically look at much smaller amounts.

How can you fight or prevent a cold with vitamin C?

Dr. Hemila recommends that people try the vitamin on their own to address colds. He said that “given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration of colds, and its safety and low cost, it would be worthwhile for individual common cold patients to test whether therapeutic 8g/day vitamin C is beneficial for them.”

However, he’s quick to caution that self-dosing with vitamin C needs to be started right away after symptoms set in for optimal efficacy. He’s also calling for more studies to be carried out examining the effectiveness of higher doses.

Taking supplements is a good way to ensure you’re getting doses of vitamin C that are high enough to make a big impact on your cold, but it also works as a preventive measure, so why not incorporate more foods into your diet that contain this useful vitamin? Fruits like organic guava, oranges, strawberries, and kiwis are all high in vitamin C, as are organic vegetables like red and green peppers, broccoli, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts. Don’t wait until cold season gets underway to give your body the nutrients it needs.

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