Fighting Colds with Vitamin C and Niacin
My family fights off colds with vitamin C and niacin (straight release or time release niacin, not inositol hexaniacinate). When we get a cold, we take as much vitamin C as we can tolerate (between 10,000 and 100,000 mg/day) until we are healthy again. When we know for sure we are getting a cold, we add 250 mg/day of time-release niacin in the morning (I take straight release niacin in two divided doses of 125 mg each because I don’t mind flushing). Adding the niacin to the vitamin C when we have a cold provides predictable benefits. Under these specific circumstances the niacin acts as a stimulant and a decongestant. We still feel bad, but bad with energy instead of fatigued. Once we’ve taken the niacin, we feel like we’ve turned a corner and that we’re getting better. This predictable effect of niacin lasts only until we’re obviously better – typically only two or three days. We also take 100 to 250 mg of niacin intermittently when we are healthy. On these occasions, the niacin either has no perceptible effect or causes unpleasant side effects.
I’m gaining confidence that taking vitamin C and niacin together to fight colds is really a new idea. I continue to ask around the vitamin user community, and after more than 6 months I’m still waiting for someone to dispute the novelty of the proposal. Equally important, I have already received several reports from others outside my family that the treatment works as described. You can read one of these reports yourself here:
You need to scroll down to the blog entry for Tuesday, July 3rd.
These reports are highly significant. Not many people have tried this treatment. Most of the people who try will not report their results to me. Based on the several reports I’ve received already, the probability is very high that a substantial fraction (>10%) of people who try this treatment will experience the same kind of results that I have reported on behalf of my family.
Around the world, millions take more than 2,000 mg/day of vitamin C for one or more days to fight off colds. My family did this for years because we were convinced by the scientific data that shows that vitamin C in this dose range reduces the duration and severity of colds. In the early days we believed we could feel the vitamin C working. As time passed, and we adjusted to regular supplementation with vitamin C (and more than 10,000 mg/day when we got colds), our ability to feel the vitamin C working faded away. We continued to suffer significantly from colds and to look for more effective treatment. We stumbled across the combination of niacin and vitamin C several years ago, and continue to find that it provides a reliable feeling of effectiveness.
I believe that the difficulty perceiving the benefits of extra vitamin C (and other vitamins) is one of the reasons why it is taking such a long time for society to optimize intakes, especially for children. Parents want to feel the benefits of treating colds with vitamins before they use vitamins to treat their children. When they treat their children with vitamins for colds, they want the children to feel the benefits and welcome the treatment.
A large majority of parents have good immunity against colds and only suffer occasionally. Many of these parents have such good immunity to colds that they really don’t understand how painful a bad cold can be. Almost all pre-school children require several years to gain immunity and suffer considerably. Pre-school children (and their parents) have the most to gain from a highly effective treatment for colds. Niacin and vitamin C are among the safest substances sold as supplements to improve health. The upper intake levels assigned to vitamin C (2,000 mg/day) and niacin (35 mg/day) are not relevant. Trying doses above the upper intake levels for several days to test whether or not the vitamins are effective for fighting a cold is safe. The only risk is a low probability of some temporary discomfort. Readers have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose by giving this treatment a try.