Vitamin C, Niacin, Antibiotics, and Terrible Colds that Go Into the Lungs
I've been studying and writing about vitamins since 1994. I've been blogging since September, 2006. All these years, I've mostly avoided discussing why I spend so much time studying vitamins, and why I feel compelled to share my expertise on the internet.
I feel more compelled than ever to continue to share my expertise, but am running out of insights backed by scientific literature. I've been feeling recently like I'm just repeating myself. So - I'm going to change my approach and start telling personal stories.
The scientific literature supporting the safety of vitamin C and niacin is fantastic. Both vitamins cause terrible side effects in overdose, but rapid recovery results from stopping supplements. There is a consensus that vitamin C and niacin do not cause long term harm or reduce life expectancy. Both vitamins have earned the term "generally recognized as safe" and are sold without child-proof caps.
For me, these are more than just words. I'm living proof of the safety of vitamin C and niacin. For the past 15 years, I've contracted a horrible cold about once per year. For me, a horrible cold is one that spreads throughout my entire respiratory tract, and gets into my lungs. I get bronchitis, and end up with painful coughing that expels unmentionable fluids. My family and physicians will all readily attest to the serious of my illness. When I feel like this, and only when I feel like this, I take astonishing quantities of vitamin C and niacin, and I am able to function pretty well despite the severity of my illness. I've never missed more than 2 days of work in a row due to one of these colds. During the worst one or two days of these colds, I take at least 50,000 mg of vitamin C per day, and have taken as much as 150,000 mg of vitamin C in a single day. I get to these astonishing doses by taking at least 5000 mg of vitamin C every hour that I'm awake (16 hrs times 5000 mg/hr results in a 24 dose of 90,000 mg). I take 250 mg of time release niacin every couple of hours taking as much as 2500 mg of niacin in a 24 hour period.
I hope no one reading this blog ever feels compelled, like I have, to take these enormous doses of vitamin C and niacin. I only take these doses because I feel my life is threatened by these colds, and I believe the vitamin C and niacin help accelerate the wounds inflicted upon me by some brew of viruses and bacteria ravaging my respiratory tract. The reason I'm sharing the story today, is to let readers know why I care so much about the science of the safety of vitamin C and niacin, and why I'm confident that the science is correct. If the science wasn't correct, by this time I'd be in trouble due to my arguably reckless abuse of vitamin C and niacin. My doctors and my family can't understand why I risk taking these doses. I don't even understand why I take the risk. After all this blogging and studying, I believe that 500 mg of niacin and 10,000 mg of vitamin C will deliver at least 90% of any benefit available by increasing dosage. My behavior isn't rational. When I'm sick like that I just keep washing down the vitamin C and niacin. I'm afraid of the niacin, keep track of it, and have placed a limit of 3000 mg for a single day. I don't even keep track of the vitamin C. I just wash it down and don't pay any attention to the total dose.
I'm afraid of the niacin, because niacin overdose has caused me, on three occasions, to lose a day to intense nausea and severe vomiting that I wish to never experience again. Each time I believed I had learned the lesson and took precautions to never overdose again. My first two sets of precautions were insufficiently cautious. It's been almost 8 years since the last event, so I just may have devised sufficient precautions. But I'm not sure - and remain afraid.
Back to the big picture. At least once per year for the last 15 years I've taken these incredible doses of vitamin C and niacin. Despite being 15 years older, I'm in obviously better health today than I was 15 years ago. I have great numbers at my physicals, and I don't take any prescription drugs. There isn't any data to make any kind of case that my abuse of vitamin C and niacin is causing me any harm. That's why I feel compelled to be the one to advise people that it is safe to take 100 mg/day of niacin and 2000 to 4000 mg/day of vitamin C. If I don't advocate for the safety of vitamin C and niacin, who will? Not only do I have the science on my side, I'm living proof.
I believe I've made a strong scientific case that extra vitamin C and niacin accelerate wound healing. I'm not a casual theoretician. I aggressively practice what I believe. Despite my knowledge and experience, I'm still nervous when I tell people they have much to gain, and little to lose by giving vitamin C and niacin a try. But if I don't speak up, who will?
One final note. I've always taken antibiotics when I get these terrible illnesses. This was before my recent epiphany about the synergy between vitamins and antibiotics. It's highly likely that my fast recoveries from these horrible colds require both vitamins and antibiotics.