Vitamin C

The Common Cold. It is sometimes claimed that vitamin C prevents or decreases the severity of the common cold. This is potentially important to people with MS, because viral infections may trigger MS attacks. However, the effects of vitamin C on the common cold are unclear. Also, because vitamin C stimulates the immune system, high doses of vitamin C supplements are theoretically risky for people with MS. Because of its unclear effects on treating the common cold, and its theoretical risks for worsening MS, it is reasonable for people with MS to be cautious about vitamin C use. If vitamin C is used, orange juice (50 milligrams of vitamin C per half cup of orange juice) or supplements in low doses (90 to 120 milligrams or less daily) may be reasonable.

Urinary Tract Infections. Vitamin C supplements are sometimes recommended for preventing or treating urinary tract infections (UTIs), which occur frequently in some women with MS. This recommendation is based on the idea that vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, makes the urine acidic and thus inhospitable for bacteria. However, there is no definitive evidence that the use of vitamin C supplements produces acidic urine or decreases the chance of developing a UTI.

More evidence exists for cranberry juice (see the chapter on "Herbs") than for vitamin C in preventing UTIs. If an actual infection is present, prescription antibiotics should definitely be used, because people with MS may have serious complications from UTIs.

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