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Antioxidants?
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 Vitamin C -- the more the better, or not? 
 
The following is one in an ongoing series of columns entitled Natural Medicine Research by . View all columns in series
Ray Sahelian Ever since the urging of Nobel winner Linus Pauling on the benefits of megadosing on vitamin C, the medical community has been debating the right dose of this vitamin. Although many doctors stood firm for a long time asserting that the amounts recommended by the RDA were adequate, more and more doctors are now realizing that higher dosages can confer additional antioxidant benefits. However, the "ideal dose" of vitamin C has not yet been determined, nor is it likely to be determined soon. Nevertheless, we now suspect that excessive dosages of vitamin C, except perhaps in the therapy of a particular medical condition, may not be necessary to take on a regular basis.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (66:1165-1171, 1997) points that large doses of ingested vitamin C may be excreted without being utilized. When the dosage of vitamin C given to a group of healthy men was increased from 200 mg a day to 2,500 mg a day, the serum levels increased only negligibly, from 12 mg/dl to 15 mg/dl. James Blanchard, Ph.D., a professor of pharmacological sciences at the University of Arizona in Tucson, reports that the blood levels of vitamin C generally reflect the tissue levels.

Comments:
Over the past few years I have recommended to my patients that they really do not need to take vitamin C supplements in dosages greater that 250 mg twice a day. This study adds an additional note of certainty to my opinion that a maximum dosage of 500, or perhaps even up to 1,000 mg a day may be all that's needed. This amount, of course, is for those who have no medical problems and are just supplementing with vitamin C for preventive reasons. It is possible that those with chronic medical conditions, or the elderly, may need more of this vitamin.

Again, moderation seems to be the key in vitamin supplementation. Obviously the RDA of 60 mg a day is probably not optimal, then again, megadoses greater that 1,000 mg a day, may also be unnecessary.

      
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 About The Author
Ray Sahelian, M.D., is a popular and respected physician who has been seen on numerous television programs including NBC Today, Dateline NBC, and CNN, and quoted by countless major magazines such as Newsweek He......moreRay Sahelian MD
 
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