Many people believe that taking a high dose of a vitamin supplement will help treat or prevent their cold or allergy symptoms. However, new research has proven that this is not the case at all. Vitamin C supplements actually don’t do anything and may actually acidify your blood. A lot of supplements on the market only seem to work because a placebo convinces people that they do, but many still swear by it. Does vitamin C help colds or just act as a placebo that is actually harming our health? The media has been lying to us for a long time.
Linus Pauling’s Curative Powers
One of the most infamous medical celebrities Linus Pauling was a forerunner for the trendy high-dose of vitamins to treat diseases. He was a physical chemist and peace activist that won two Nobel Prizes in the 1950’s.
He was a very highly respected scientist at the time, and the public took his word for everything that he said. However, Pauling was later criticized for venturing too far out of his field of research into nutrition and began to be ignored by mainstream medicinal science.
But was he right about vitamin C having these powerful abilities?
At the time, the recommended daily allowance(RDA) for vitamin C was about 50 milligrams each day. Pauling insisted that over 1,000 milligrams was necessary to remain healthy in our modern society.
Then, he performed an experiment on monkeys that resulted in the conclusion that humans needed six grams per day. This is 200 times more than the recommended daily allowance.(1)
Linus Pauling believed that heart disease and cancer were all signs of “pre-scurvy” that needed to be treated with megadoses of vitamin C. Ironically, he died of prostate cancer in 1994.
Ascorbic Acid as a Vitamin C Supplement
As practiced by Linus Pauling, many vitamin companies still try to push for the necessity of megadoses in our healthy and normal lives. To avoid a cold, you might be inclined to take Emergen-C or Airborne for their supposed cold-fighting ingredients.
But do these unregulated supplements even work?
Unless you are a marathon runner, skier, soldier in cold temperatures or have a very poor diet, extra Vitamin C isn’t going to keep you from getting sick. (2)
Ascorbic acid is an essential nutrient that helps the body’s immune system, generate antioxidants and digest protein. If you don’t eat enough, you will get scurvy like the pirates. Too much will cause diarrhea, nausea and kidney stones.
There is no scientific research to support the claim that vitamin C supplements do anything. (3)
Of course, the best way to consume nutrients is through actual food. In the case of vitamin C, the best sources are from:
- Leafy greens
- Fruits like strawberries
- Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli
Many health institutes suggest that 80 milligrams per day is appropriate for adults living a normal lifestyle with a limit of 2,000 milligrams per day.(4)
Like all dietary supplements, anything with a high dose of vitamin C has not passed safety and efficacy research before being brought to the market. When you buy most supplemental products, you should know that this is the case—it hasn’t been tested or proven to work and does not have to be. It doesn’t even need to have the same ingredients that are listed. That’s simply because government agencies would be too overwhelmed to test them all. Supplement companies know that they can get away with basically anything.
Symptoms of Vitamin C Deficiency
An actual need or deficiency of vitamin C will present itself in a few ways. The signs and symptoms of vitamin C deficiency are not too annoying, but long-term low levels will be very detrimental to your health. A severe vitamin C deficiency will result in scurvy, the disease that consists of the breakdown of collagen. (5)
Scurvy will make you feel weak and affects your muscle and bone strength as well as your immune system. Less noticeable signs of low levels of vitamin C include:
- Bruishing easily
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Slow injury healing
- Dry and splitting hair
- Dry spots, as well as rough and scaly skin
- Nose bleeding
- Weight gain from slowed metabolism
- Swollen aching joints
Over time, serious health problems will arise if you are not getting enough vitamin C in your diet. Long-term health problems will include:
- High blood pressure
- Gallbladder disease
What Will Actually Help Colds and Other Illnesses?
Zinc is an essential mineral that has an important role in your health and immunity. Vegetarians are particularly at risk for developing a zinc deficiency. The recommended intake for zinc is 15 milligrams each day.
Research has proven that a proper amount of zinc from the sources of either food or supplements will prevent colds and other illness. Zinc is now regarded as the most effective supplement against the common cold. (6)
Some good food sources of zinc include seafood, seeds, nuts, beans and mushrooms.
Scientific research has found that fresh ginger will treat and prevent respiratory viruses. These results were not concluded from powdered ginger, only fresh and natural ginger used in cooking or tea.
A great way to consume ginger is by boiling water and throwing a few pieces in the water. Allow it to steep for ten minutes and you have a wonderful spicy tea. I like to sweeten ginger tea with honey.
- Natural Food Sources of Vitamin C
Getting an adequate amount of vitamin C in your diet is not difficult at all and you likely don’t have to worry about it. Vitamin C from food sources is bioavailable to the body, unlike vitamin C supplements. Some of these foods are very healing because of their antioxidant content in addition to their high amount of vitamin C that will benefit your immune system:
- Green Pepper
- Orange, lemons, limes and grapefruit
- Kale and Spinach
It’s important to note that heating and cooking these foods will destroy vitamin C. You must eat them raw to receive benefits.
Does Vitamin C Help Colds?
If you are considering taking a vitamin C supplement to combat colds or other illness, you might be asking “does vitamin c help colds?” The answer is no, it will not actually help you because this form of ascorbic acid is not bioavailable. However, food sources of this nutrient will benefit your immune system greatly and definitely combat colds and illness.
Other benefits of vitamin C include:
- Eye health
- Proper moods
- Treatment of toxicity
- Skin Health
- Allergies and asthma
Ascorbic acid in a powder or pill is not natural; it is synthetic, incomplete and a usually GMO form of natural vitamin C that you can find in foods. Spend your money on real, organic food for the healthy treatment of illnesses as well as the prevention of it.
I’m always here for you if you would like to contact me in the comments,