A vitamin C megadose is the administration of vitamin C in an amount much greater than the recommended dosage. Vitamin C has many beneficial effects in the human body at recommended levels, and the concept of a megadose is that a larger quantity will help to fight off disease and have an even greater effect. Supporters of the vitamin C megadose claim it is an effective treatment for ailments such as colds and depression. Medical research, however, shows that a vitamin C megadose is an ineffective treatment except in very specific cases involving certain diseases.
The practice of using megadoses is not limited to vitamin C. Several vitamins have been examined for their beneficial properties when dispensed in large quantities. There has, as of 2011, been no consistent evidence that megadoses of any vitamin are any more beneficial than the standard recommended amounts in most cases. The exceptions are the treatment of gout and potentially some specific types of viral infections.
One of the ideas used to justify a vitamin C megadose is the difference between humans and most other animals. Humans and primates are not able to create vitamin C within their own bodies, though most other animals are. The level of vitamin C found in these other animals is very high, leading to the conclusion by some that matching that level of vitamin C in humans could be beneficial.
One danger that has existed since the idea of a vitamin C megadose was introduced is that people who feel like they are getting sick may attempt to self-medicate with over-the-counter supplements. Some people even go so far as to inject a vitamin C megadose directly into their bloodstream. High levels of nearly any substance can potentially be harmful to the body, so this practice is not suggested.
High levels of vitamin C in a person have been shown to have a number of harmful effects. One of the most serious problems that can occur is an increase in the amount of iron that is absorbed into the tissue. This can lead to iron toxicity. At the same time, it will reduce the body’s ability to absorb vitamin B12.
Taken in proper dosages, vitamin C is both beneficial and necessary for good health. It can help to prevent diseases such as scurvy, increase collagen production, act as an antioxidant and help to regulate other minerals in the body, such as copper. Vitamin C also has other benefits, such as increasing the ability of the body to absorb calcium, leading to better bone health.