How Much Vitamin C Is Too Much?
It’s generally accepted that a healthy dose of vitamin C can help ward off colds. But just how much is enough?
By Jack Phillips
Many people do not realize that man is one of the few mammals which does not manufacture its own supply of vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid.
The rates of production by a number of different animals like the cat, dog and goat have been measured. The heavier the animal the more vitamin C it produces.
However, a 154-pound man would need to produce between 1.75 and 3.50 grams per day to keep up with the other animals.
There are experts who feel that taking more than 140 milligrams per day of this vitamin is wasteful because, for many people, more than this amount results in urine containing the vitamin—“Expensive Urine.”
Loading tests have shown that 20 to 25 percent of a 1 gram per day dose shows up in the urine within 6 hours. When much larger doses are taken, as much as 62 percent can show up within hours.
Generally speaking, the recommended daily allowances have been based on the amounts needed to prevent scurvy in healthy young men.
But healthy young men represent only a small part of the total population.
To my knowledge, no one has determined how much of any vitamin is required by unhealthy old men—or women.
The results of a test involving 88 patients, half being schizophrenic, are reported in Dr. Linus Pauling’s book How to live Longer and Feel Better.
Each was given 1.75 grams of vitamin C by mouth. During the following 6 hours each patient’s urine was collected and then analyzed.
The amounts excreted varied from 2 percent to 40 percent of the amount ingested. The mental patients excreted about 60 percent less than the others.
This clearly indicates that the need for vitamin C is quite variable. Just as one size shoe doesn’t fit every foot, the recommended daily allowance is not going to fill everybody’s need for this essential vitamin.
Incidentally, excreted vitamin C is not a complete loss. According to Dr. Pauling, it protects against urinary tract infections.
Large doses can have a laxative effect causing looseness of the bowel. This is said to be greater when the vitamin is taken on an empty stomach.
Dr. Pauling recommended using this laxative effect to reduce chances of developing colon cancer. Additionally, the vitamin appears to be most effective in fighting disease when the dose is close to the bowel tolerance limit.
Vitamin C is one of the few naturally anti-viral materials. There has been much controversy about its usefulness against colds and influenza.
It is notable that Dr. Pauling’s interest in vitamin C was sparked by his observation that he and his wife experienced a striking decrease in the number and severity of colds after they started taking large quantities of it. I have enjoyed the same benefit.
The effects of the vitamin are dose related. Many tests at low dosages during the early years of this controversy showed little effect except reductions in the duration of symptoms.
However, physicians experienced with this therapy recommend intakes near the bowel tolerance limit, said to be between 4 and 15 grams per day for people in good health.
Dr. Irwin Stone, a pioneer in the use of vitamin C, recommended taking 1.5 to 2 grams by mouth at the first sign of a cold and repeating the dose at 20 to 30 minute intervals until symptoms disappeared. He said this usually happened by the third dose.
Collagen is the material that holds your body together. Vitamin C is destroyed in the process of producing collagen. If your skin is cut, collagen is generated to make scar tissue.
It seems obvious that the more extensive the damage, the greater the amount of vitamin C needed for the repair.
There are many references in the scientific literature attesting to the efficacy of vitamin C in wound healing.
When I had a need for a hernia repair, I put the theory to a test. I increased my intake of vitamin C prior to the surgery and took 52 grams of it in the 24 hours after it at the rate of about 2 grams per hour.
I experienced no digestive difficulties, my wound healed well and I did not need the prescribed pain medication.
I was careful to reduce this high intake over the next 3 days to avoid a rebound effect. If you take a lot of vitamin C and stop taking it suddenly, your liver will take it out of your immune system leaving you vulnerable to infection.
It is interesting to note that your bones are made up of layers of collagen and the mineral apatite which together form a matrix of semiconductors. It is reasonable to believe, therefore, that vitamin C is also of value in maintaining the integrity of your skeleton.
There are those who say that large quantities of vitamin C are poisonous.
Dr. Pauling reported that he took 18 grams of it every day and he lived to be over 90.
In bulk, vitamin C is not expensive. It costs about 3.5 cents per gram. Thus 1.75 grams costs about 6 cents and 18 grams about 65 cents.
Of course your body needs other supplements to stay healthy.
Dr. Joel Wallach has stated that there are 60 minerals, 16 vitamins, 12 essential amino acids and 3 essential fatty acids that your body requires in order to prevent dietary deficiency diseases.
The soils in the United States have been deficient in minerals for years so you cannot get everything you need from food alone.
In 1994, Dr. Wallach stated that the life span for the average American was 75.5 years, but was only 58 years for medical doctors.
An attempt to update the life span for physicians was unsuccessful because a representative of the American Medical Association stated that they no longer keep these statistics.
Possibly the physicians who have been advising their patients to avoid “Expensive Urine” have been taking their own advice—and dying early of “Cheap Urine.”