Saturday, January 13, 2007

Fighting Colds with Vitamin C and Niacin

I have read many documents advocating fighting colds with 5 to 100 gm/day doses of extra vitamin C. The extra vitamin C is taken in divided doses every hour or two until the onset of the side effect of intestinal discomfort. Many in my family followed this advice for many years, and we generally believe that the practice reduces the duration and severity of colds. Despite this practice, colds continued to cause substantial suffering, and we were interested in better results. If you are looking for good doses to start with, click here.

Niacin is one of two common forms of vitamin B3. Niacin has been proven in double blind, placebo control clinical trials to fight heart disease when taken at doses ranging between 1000 and 4000 mg/day (the RDA is near 20 mg/day). Niacin lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol. It is the most effective treatment known for these conditions.

Niacin can be difficult to take. It can have very unpleasant side effects. Niacin causes flushing. The skin turns red and feels like a sunburn for a few minutes. On average, the severity of the flush increases with increasing dose, and can be extremely painful. Flushing can be controlled with time-release niacin. The next most common side effect is more serious. It is nausea. The nausea ranges from mild, lasting for an hour or so to so severe that it lasts a whole day and can be accompanied by vomiting. Niacin has been associated with many other side effects. In this respect, niacin is much more difficult to use than vitamin C. In general, vitamin C’s intestinal side effects are some combination of completely avoidable or readily tolerable.

My family has found niacin’s side effects to be tolerable, but not completely avoidable. We take it because we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to obviously reduce the duration and severity of colds. With the exception of the most severe colds, the combination of vitamin C and niacin has kept the family feeling 100%, and maybe even better. When fighting a cold, we have found the combination of vitamin C and niacin to have a stimulant effect. Under the influence, in addition to fighting off the cold, we rush about our business with extra energy. We use single daily doses of niacin between 100 and 250 mg. We ordinarily use it only twice at most because by the third day the cold is over. I take ordinary niacin and typically flush because the flush doesn’t bother me. The rest of my family hate flushing and take time release niacin. When the cold is gone we return to the normal daily routine of vitamin C and a multivitamin.

I have read the vitamin literature extensively. I have found almost nothing advocate the combination of extra vitamin C and extra niacin to fight off colds. If anyone can point me to references, I’m interested.

Niacin is a vitamin with tremendous potential. All medical professionals accept the usefulness of niacin at doses far above the 20 mg RDA. All cardiologists are now familiar with the challenges of using niacin and are a skilled resource to help the population that is suffering from chronic colds. Niacin side effects are being successfully managed. The benefits clearly far outweigh the dangers.

Niacin is known to be essential to the health of every cellular system in the body. Hundreds of specific metabolic pathways requiring niacin have been identified. Since high doses of niacin are effective for heart disease, proposal that high doses might be effective for other conditions merit a fair hearing.

So, if colds cause you enough trouble to make taking extra vitamin C worthwhile, consider adding in some extra niacin. There’s nothing to lose. If it works, come on back to the board and let others know. Let us know about any side effects too.


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At 7:08 PM, Blogger rpisces11 said...

I took a 500mg pill of Niacin and found the experience traumatic. NEVER AGAIN! Please go see a doctor if you are going to take big doses. I was on FIRE for 45 minutes!!!!!!

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Rusty Hoge said...

In response to rpisces11: The "flush" that you experienced, which can be frightening and annoying, is harmless. Niacin needs to be taken carefully. Dosage needs to be raised slowly. I recommend time-release. Please also see the Niacin Mongraph

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Niacin is a bit of a wonder drug just do some research on the net. In addition it was found that the lower costing non flushing formulations had the better effect. It is also recommended to increase niacin over a period of time, you should never SELF dose Niacin in the upper limits of 1000-1500mgs daily, this can be dangerous for a few is BP medicine interaction (only some BP meds not all) secondly it can have an effect on your liver which needs to be tested as if you were on statins. Even with these very minimal issues I highly recommend its for people who have lower HDL numbers. Remember if your able exercise, 30-40mins daily will most definately and has been clinically proven to have many positive impacts on your overall health, it is well documented.

At 6:04 PM, Blogger silent wings said...

Hello I took Niacin and extra Vitamin C for my cold this week at the recommendation of my husband. I was pretty mad at him for the first 3o min. LOL That stuff is crazy!!! I was beet red and my skin felt tight and swollen. I think it took about an hour for it to wear off completely. It is day 3now and my cold is almost gone.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Steve said...

silent wings,

Thanks for visiting and sharing your experience. I'm sorry you were surprised by the niacin flush. Yes indeed. LOL that stuff is crazy!!! I've done my best to warn about this side effect and to help users avoid this pain. I hope you realize that you can take niacin in divided doses of <50 mg each. 30 minutes between doses is enough to prevent intense flushing. Alternatively, you can take time-release niacin tablets.

I believe I've been clear that vitamin C and niacin do not reduce the frequency of colds - just the duration and severity. Please see my post titled "Four Special Nutrients". I now believe that optimal doses of vitamin D and allithiamine can reduce the frequency of colds. You can also type "Vitamins and Influenza" into google. An OMNS press release comes up discussing the same subject.

Thanks again for visiting and leaving your comment.


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