Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Hydration for the Apocalypse: How to Store Water for Long-Term Emergencies

April 1, 2014
Manly SkillsSelf-RelianceSurvival

Your community in action - moving food, water, medicines into shelters.
A big storm and earthquake hits your town. It’s a certifiable quakenado.
Your house is spared structural damage, but the power and water are out. According to news reports, the grid is down in your area and several water mains are broken. Conservative estimates are that it will take crews at least a week to get water service back on.
Would you have enough water in your home for you and your family to last until the water came back? Or if you live in the southwest, would you have enough in a situation where your city just plain runs out of water?

How Much Water Do I Need?

Vintage drinking water barrel.
Water…because ducking and covering works up a mighty thirst.
The general rule of thumb is that you’ll need one gallon of water per person per day. Half a gallon is used for drinking and the other half is used for hygiene. That number will go up depending on a whole host of factors. If you live in a hot climate or have pregnant or nursing women in your group, you’ll want to store more water.
Alright, so a gallon a day per person is the general rule.
So the question becomes, how many days without water should you prep for?
Well that depends on how prepared you want to be for varying degrees of disaster.
FEMA recommends that everyone have enough water to last three days should your regular water source be disrupted. Three days of water should be enough to get you through the periods of water shut-off or contamination that can happen during natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, and ice storms.
Three days is a good starting point, but even during run-of-the-mill disasters, water access can be down for much longer than that.
After spending hours reading prepper blogs and forums, it seems the general consensus is that you should have at least two weeks worth of water on hand. So for a single person, that’s 14 gallons of water. For a family of four, that would mean you’d need 56 gallons of water.
Whether you decide to go above and beyond the two-week minimum is up to you. For lots of people, finding space in their home or apartment to store enough water for two weeks is a stretch, so trying to find room for a month might not be in the cards (though with a bit of creativity, you’d be surprised how you can arrange things in your house to make room for large amounts of water and food storage). Even if space isn’t an issue, the upfront costs for long-term water storage can be prohibitively expensive.
My recommendation would be to start off with the two-week supply and slowly build up to larger amounts as space and money become available. Right now I have about a month’s worth of water for my family. The funny/scary thing about prepping is that it can become a weird obsession. Once I filled my two 55-gallon barrels with water, I immediately wanted more. Now I’m shooting for a year supply. Have I turned into a crazy SHTF (Sh*t Hits The Fan) prepper? Just a touch. I better get busy burying 42 school buses underground….

Long-Term Water Storage Solutions

So you’ve decided to start building your emergency water supply. You’ll need a safe container in which to store it. The general guideline is to use food-grade plastic bottles. You can also use glass bottles so long as they haven’t stored non-food items. Stainless steel is another option, but you won’t be able to treat your stored water with chlorine, as it corrodes steel. Finally, no matter what you store your water in, make sure you can seal it. You don’t want any bacteria or other contamination mucking up your drinking water. Below, we highlight several water storage options.

Two-Week Water Storage Options

Storing bottled water for an emergency supply
Store-Bought Bottled Water. The easiest (but slightly more expensive) way to reach your water storage quota is to simply buy pre-packaged bottled water. It’s clean, well-sealed, and comes in food-grade plastic bottles. Moreover, bottled water is highly portable, which comes in handy ifyou need to bug out. This is a great option if you have limited space in your home or apartment. Just buy a bunch of packages and store them under beds. For example, one 35-count package of Poland Spring waterprovides about 4.6 gallons. That’s enough water to last one person four days. If you want two weeks of water, you just need four packages.
Empty Soda/Water/Gatorade Bottles. If you’re a cheap bastard, you can just refill empty soda/water/Gatorade bottles with water from your tap. Just make sure to thoroughly clean the bottles first, using this process.
5-7-Gallon Water Jugs. If you’re a regular camper, you might already have a few of these in your garage. They’re made from sturdy, food-grade plastic. The plastic is usually a dark blue which restricts light and helps prevent algae growth. I think the blue is also to remind you that “Hey! This is for water only!” The jugs are typically stackable, so they make for easy storage, even in the tightest of spaces. Their smallish size also makes for easy transport in case you need to leave your home base.

One Month or More Water Storage Options

waterBOBIf you’ve read The Roadyou’ll likely remember the scene where our protagonist begins to fill up a bathtub immediately after seeing flashes that signal an impending apocalypse outside his window. He knew the city water would be shutting off soon, and he wanted to store as much as he could before that happened. This is actually in my emergency plan if we ever encounter a SHTF moment here in Tulsa. While filling up a tub will give you 100 gallons of water, the problem is that it’s not very sanitary for a couple of reasons. First, when was the last time you cleaned your tub? And if you did clean it recently, did you use harsh chemicals to do so? Either way, you probably don’t want to drink water straight from it. Second, water in your tub has no covering so it’s susceptible to all sorts of contamination.
waterBOB system for emergency water.
In times of crisis, a waterBOB is quite handy. Be sure to have fresh towels and some scented candles on hand as well, as seen above. Even during the apocalypse, everyone needs some “me time.”
That’s where the waterBOB comes in. It’s a giant, heavy-duty plastic bag that holds up to 100 gallons of water. Just place it in your bathtub and fill with water from your tub faucet. Boom! Instant sanitary water storage.
This is a good option for folks with limited space. Just bust it out whenever you think you’ll need to use it. The downside is that when you think you need it, there might not be any water to fill it up.
Water Barrels. If you have the space and you’re looking to have at least one month of water storage on hand, you can’t go wrong with 55-gallon water barrels. They’re made from sturdy food-grade plastic and have bungs at the top that can be sealed super tight in order to protect your water from contamination. The plastic is also BPA-free and UV-resistant. Two of these babies will give a family of four about 27 days worth of water. This is what I have right now for my water storage solution.
There are a few downsides. The first one is space. If you live in an apartment, you probably won’t have room for a 55-gallon water barrel. The second is price. Each barrel will set you back about $90. You’ll also need to buy a pump and a specialty drinking water hose to fill them up. Finally, they’re not very portable. A full barrel weighs in at 440 lbs. You’ll definitely want a more portable option available in case you need to bug out.
If you’re looking to store more than a month of water, you might consider getting one (or more!) of these 320-gallon water storage systems. I’m looking to add one to our garage later this year.

How to Store Water in 55-Gallon Barrels

55-gallon drinking water barrels
I’ve got two 55-gallon barrels in my garage.
water barrels on a wood pallet
While probably not necessary, I placed my barrels on a wooden pallet to avoid a possible chemical reaction between the barrels and the cement.
specialty drinking water hose
Experts recommend that you avoid using a regular old garden hose when filling up your water barrels and instead use a speciality drinking water hose.
filled water barrels
Filled them up. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would.
chlorine drops for pre-treating water
Many prepper sites recommend pre-treating your water with chlorine to help prevent algae and bacteria growth. However, several sites claim that this isn’t even necessary because tap water is already treated with chlorine. I treated one barrel and not the other. It will be interesting to see if there’s any difference between the two in a year.
Tightening the water barrels
After filling your barrels, make sure to seal the bung as tight as you can. Remember, water doesn’t spoil. What causes water to go bad is contamination.
smaller water storage jug
Even though you might have giant barrels full of water, it’s a good idea to have smaller storage jugs in case you need to bug out of your house.
Rain BarrelsIn addition to storing tap water, you might consider adding some rain barrels into your system. Simply place a rain barrel at the bottom of your gutter pipe, and whenever it rains your barrel collects the water. Rainwater harvesting is an eco and budget friendly way to create a long-term water storage reserve. Because it comes from the heavens, and it’s sitting in a barely-protected barrel outside, you’ll want to filter and sanitize rainwater before drinking it. Some preppers just use rainwater for hygiene and save their stored tap water for drinking. Although it’s a myth that some states have made rainwater collection illegal, some drought-prone states have regulations on methods and require permits, and some states (like Texas) actually give a tax credit for buying rain collection equipment. Be sure to check the regulations for your state.
Water Cistern SystemWater cisterns are a big step up from rain barrels. They’re basically giant holding containers that you use to capture rain water. Water cistern systems can hold  anywhere from 1,400 gallons to 12,000 gallons of water. If you’re planning for end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it events, water cisterns are where it’s at. You’ll need space where you can place a giant water tank and you’ll need to develop a system of pipes to deliver rainwater to the cistern. Also, the tanks used in cistern systems usually aren’t food friendly. You’ll want to treat the water before drinking it or use cistern water primarily for hygiene purposes.

Back-up Water Solutions

In addition to having stored water, you’ll want to have options to filter and purify water in case you need to use water from rivers, streams, or lakes to supplement your supply. Creek Stewart recommends having three options on hand to produce clean drinking water: filter, chemical, and boiling.
  • Water filter. I have a Katadyn Hiker Pro Filtration System in my bug-out bag. You can produce about 1 liter of clean water per minute with it. You definitely can’t rely on it for your primary source of clean water. It’s just a supplement.
  • Purification tabletsI have some iodine and sodium chlorite tablets for purification as well.
  • Fuel and stove to boil water. Finally, I have a small stove and fuel in my bug-out bag so I can boil water to purify it.
paper bag trick for heating water
If you find yourself in a scenario where you have a paper bag but not a pot in which to boil water in…I present to you a life hack from a 1950s issue of Modern Mechanix magazine.

Common Questions About Water Storage

Do I need to rotate my water every year? This is probably the most common question and the most common answer is, yes, you need to change your water out at least once a year. But after looking into it, I found that this isn’t necessarily true. First, it’s important to understand that water doesn’t have an expiration date. If properly stored, water doesn’t spoil. What makes water go bad is contamination that gets into it. If you take proper precautions in sealing and storing your water so that bacteria or other contaminants don’t get into it, your water could theoretically stay good forever. In fact, I’ve read lots of blog posts from folks who’ve imbibed five-year-old stored water without any problems. So, as long as you take proper precautions, no, you don’t need to change your water out every year. However, if you’re worried about contamination, then go ahead and do it.
Do I need to treat my water with chlorine before I store it? A few prepper sites recommend that you treat your water with chlorine before you seal its storage container. But if you’re using tap water from your city to fill your water storage, it’s unnecessary. Tap water has already been treated with chlorine. If you properly seal your bottle or drum, you shouldn’t have to worry about bacteria or algae growth. If the day comes that you have to crack open your water source and you’re worried about contamination, feel free to add chlorine. The proper amount is 1/8 teaspoon of chlorine per gallon of water. To make it easier, just buy somewater treatment drops. They tell you exactly what you need to add.
Do I need to boil my stored water before I drink it? If you have reason to believe that your water has been contaminated, then boil it. If not, don’t. It’s a waste of fuel.
Why does my stored water taste funny? Is it contaminated? Stored water will often taste flat and weird because there’s no oxygen in it. To get rid of that weird stored water taste, simply swish your water around your cup a few times before drinking.
Do I need to store my water off the cement? If you plan on storing water in 55-gallon barrels, you’ll likely come across recommendations to not store the barrels on your garage’s cement floor and to instead place them on wooden pallets. The reason given is that chemicals in the cement can cause a chemical reaction with the plastic storage container and possibly contaminate the water. Looking into this a bit more, this seems to be more of an old prepper wives’ tale. I couldn’t find any scientific research to back up this claim. A few prepper sites claimed that storing your water on cement only became a problem when your cement got really hot.
To be on the safe side, I went ahead and put my water barrels on a pallet. Didn’t cost me much more and didn’t take up much more space. You can also use carpet or flattened cardboard boxes too.
I have a swimming pool. Can’t I just use that for my emergency water? If you have an average size swimming pool out back, you have around 20,000 gallons of water at your disposal in case of an emergency. It’s certainly drinkable. You just have to be smart about it. Because of the chlorine and pump/filter, pool water is typically free of contaminants like algae and bacteria. Don’t be freaked out about drinking chlorinated pool water. The recommended chlorine levels for pools is 2 parts per million.Water with chlorine levels below 4 parts per million is safe for humans to drink.
The problem with relying on pool water for a long-term water solution is that in a grid-down situation in which water and electricity are out for more than a week, that pool water is going to go bad. First, chlorine levels will drop in a few days unless you keep adding chlorine to the pool. If you don’t have enough chlorine on hand, that means the water will become an algae and bacteria breeding ground in a short while. Second, without electricity, your pool’s pump and filter can’t clean out the gunk. So after a week, your pristine drinkable pool water will start to “spoil.” With that in mind, you might consider having several collapsible water carriers on hand and filling them up with pool water if you think the power will be down for more than a week. Fill as many as you can and put them in your garage. You should  boil or chemically treat any pool water before drinking it just to be safe.
What about saltwater pools? Well, that’s a bit trickier. There’s a lot of mixed info out there on the topic. A few people make the case that salt levels in saltwater pools aren’t as high as you’d think they’d be, and are arguably in the safe range for drinking. On the other hand, their levels are still pretty high and too much salt consumption in a survival situation can be detrimental to your overall well-being, so you’re better off not swigging the stuff. It’s better to play it safe by avoiding drinking the saltwater from your pool. If you do have a saltwater pool and would like to use the water, consider using it only for hygiene purposes. If you want to use it for drinking, use a solar desalination device like this one. Just be warned, it takes a long time to produce drinkable water.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

That Water is Unsafe to Drink

May 6, 2005 by Ron Fontaine 

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In this Survival Topic we will discuss why it is important that you consider ALL sources of drinking water as contaminated with disease causing organisms until you properly treat it. We will also touch upon the best method to make water safe to drink. Water Born Disease Organisms I want to hammer home to you the importance of always always always (did I say “always”?) treating any water before you use it for anything you will ingest into your body. Water Born Disease Organisms I want to hammer home to you the importance of always always always (did I say “always”?) treating any water before you use it for anything you will ingest into your body. In short, before you use water for any purpose that ends up in your body including Drinking water. Oral hygiene such as rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth. Cleaning of vegetables and other foods. Cleaning of cooking and eating utensils. Douching and enemas if you are into such things best left unsaid. The water must first be de-contaminated so that all water borne pathogens are destroyed or rendered inert. Otherwise you may become very sick indeed. Contaminated Water One of the most basic concepts you must completely understand in order to stay healthy in wilderness survival situations is that all sources of water are suspect. Urban dwellers that we tend to be, we are usually accustomed to simply turning on the tap and drinking the water that comes from it. It is important to note that tap water usually comes from protected sources and has been treated by municipal agencies to destroy disease causing organisms. This water is also frequently tested in order to insure it meets standards for potablility. In more rural areas tap water often comes from wells and springs where natural processes have purified the water. Because we usually obtain our water so easily from the tap, the mindset to always consider water from untested sources as contaminated can be difficult to fully accept. Old habits die hard and many of you will be tempted to ignore my advice and drink any outdoor water source that appears to be fresh and clean. But I want you to drop any preconceived notion you many have on this subject and trust Survival Topics completely when it comes to treating your water. It could very well save your life. Too many times to count people have told me that a certain stream or lake is safe to drink because it is clear, cold, and natural. I have some important information that could very well prevent you from becoming very sick: That crystal clear mountain stream may seem clean enough to the eye, but invisible microorganisms are thriving in its waters by the millions. Most of the tiny living things in water are harmless to humans, but all too often there are types that can make you very sick should you ingest them. You Are Likely Drinking Feces Many disease organisms contaminate water sources due to improper disposal of human wastes including feces. Another common natural source of water contamination comes from the local wildlife that often defecate in or near the water. Birds and mammals that live in or near water think nothing of releasing their bodily wastes into it. But worse, many ignorant humans will improperly dispose of urine, feces, and kitchen wastes close to communal water supplies. No matter how remote you feel you are, I guarantee someone has been there before you. They may be swimming, washing up, or even have deposited a steaming pile of feces just upstream minutes before you filled your water container. On a number of occasions while at established campsites I have visited the only available water supply, often a natural spring, only to find that someone had washed their dishes in it! Were it not for the odd bits of food items floating in the other wise clear water I may never had known ignorant humans had been there before me. If these people are dumb enough to wash filthy dishes in the only available water supply, who knows what else they may have done nearby. If I were less informed about the hazards of untested water I may have drank that water without treating it and become very sick. Humans are veritible poop machines and wherever they have been you can be assured there is plenty of feces laying about. Historically, wastes and human fecal contamination of water supplies has resulted in large epidemics of cholera and other diseases that have ended the lives of millions. Do not let the actions of dumb people take you down: treat all water before you ingest it. Disease Organisms Would Like You to Drink Them Water can contain a range of nasty organisms you would do well to avoid. These include bacteria such as Escherichia coli (E. Coli) Salmonella Protozoa, which also often come from human an animal feces: Microsporidia including Giarda Cryptosporidium Toxoplasma gondii Amoebae Ciliates Flagellates Apicomplexans and let’s not forget helminth zoonoses such as: nematodes ascarids pinworms hookworms strongylids angiostrongylids capillarids guinea worms liver flukes tapeworms But it’s not just fecal contamination from wildlife and ignorant humans you must worry about. I recall hiking up a crystal clear mountain stream in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. At the top of a high waterfall, below which people often swim, lay a huge rotting moose carcass that dammed up the entire stream. Unbeknownst to all, the whole water course filtered through eight hundred pounds of rotting meat on the way to that fine swimming hole downstream. So much for crystal clear mountain streams being safe to drink from! How to Make Water Safe to Drink Now that I have convinced you to consider all sources of water as contaminated until treated, I would like to suggest the best way to make water safe to drink. Once again I am sure to be stirring up a hornets nest of dissent on this subject but I stand by what I write as proven beyond doubt. Try to release any preconceived notions you may have as you read what follows. The miracle of modern advertising would have you believe that the portable water filters on the market today will remove nearly all pathogens and disease causing organisms from water. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is, studies have conclusively shown water filters vary a great deal in the types and amount of organisms they are able to filter. And that is when the water filters are functioning properly and users correctly operate and maintain them. A tall order indeed, especially in the field during adverse conditions. Would you drink water from a filter that is removing only 85% of water borne disease organisms? Chances are the water filter you use isn’t even doing that well. Various chemicals used to treat water also lack the ability to destroy 100% of disease causing organisms in water. The reasons for this are beyond the scope of this article and will be covered in a future Survival Topic. The manufacturers of chemicals and water filters don’t want you to know what the best way to make water safe to drink really is. That’s because its simple, inexpensive to operate, and they cannot sell it. The fact is, the best way to make water safe for consumption will destroy or render inert 100% of disease causing organisms. What’s more, this process is readily available and nearly foolproof. It has been successfully used for centuries and remains hands down the best method of all: boiling. How Long Does the Water Need to Boil? Water does do not even have to reach the boiling point (about 212° F or 100° C at sea level) to be rendered safe to drink; Once the water temperature reaches 185° F (85° C) nearly all disease causing organisms have been destroyed. The only reason you typically get water up to the boiling point is you probably do not have a thermometer handy to measure the water temperature. Boiling is proof positive the water is hot enough to make it safe to drink. You can also throw out the myth that you must boil water longer at higher elevations. The boiling point of water even on Mount Everest is still high enough to destroy all disease causing organisms even before the water has started to boil. For more information on boiling water to make it safe to drink read the breakthrough Survival Topic “How Long Do you Need to Boil Water?”. In conclusion: Consider water from any source as contaminated with disease causing organisms. By far the best way to treat water is by boiling it. You only have to bring the water to a boil. Don’t waste fuel; there is no need to boil water for 10-minutes, 5-minutes, or even 1-minute. Once it is boiling all disease causing organisms have been destroyed or rendered inert some time earlier. Even on Mount Everest, the highest point on earth, once water reaches the boiling point it is safe to drink. Filed Under: Recent Survival Topics, Survival Topics Blog

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Monday, 1 September 2014


We recommend a minimum of 3000 mg of high quality vitamin c daily, which you may find in C5 and C5+ from simply4health.
Request a copy of our newsletterherbalYODA Says! on FLU, for more about the benefits of vitamin C with your doation.
An essential water soluble vitamin involved in at least 300 biochemical pathways in the body.  Humans cannot synthesise Vitamin C and so require a daily intake. Fragile, highly unstable, and easily destroyed by heat and light, our requirement is higher than any other water soluble vitamin. As a nutrient, is needed for collagen production, an integral part of skin, tendons, bones, gums, teeth, and blood vessels, as well as growth and repair of tissue and helping to maintain normal blood fat and cholesterol levels. 
Photo Above is of Vitamin C
~ Receive our vitamin C cleansing protocol with a donation to CHI ~
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Vitamin C Dose Recommendation - Take a minimum of 3000 mg ascorbic acid daily, in divided doses at mealtime, for adults.
Generally we encourage that you take more than 30 times that of National Academy of Sciences (75-90mg) and 15 times more than that of the Pauling Institute and NIH (200mg).
Dr. Pauling prescribed 2 to 6 times the Vitamin C Foundation’s vitamin C RDA (6,000 to 18,000 mg of vitamin C), and beleived that his dosage was based on the large amounts of vitamin C that animals manufacture daily. Currently there is veterinary research showing that most animal companions need vitamin C supplementation.
Vitamin C researcher Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD, advises from 2 to 4 times our recommendation (6,000 to 12,000 mg daily, taken in divided doses).
Referring to the work of Robert Cathcart, MD, we suggest the ability to tolerate daily oral vitamin C varies between 4 and 16 grams daily, if you have ordinary (not severe) health (poor to average) status.  Cathcart’s clinical experience demonstrates that almost all humans tolerate 4 grams of vitamin C daily.
For children these references are helpful: Up to age 3: 1 gram vitamin C daily for children, based upon their age (1 gram for 1- yr-olds; 2 grams for 2-yr olds, etc., in divided doses, and not a product containing sugar or artificial sweeteners)
The daily allowance may not prevent or resolve disease that comes from deficiency of vitamin C.  Cardiovascular disease, as an example, requires from 6,000 to 18,000 mg Vitamin C daily; cancers may require 14,000 to 39,000 mg daily.’ (Excerpt from the research of Drs Hickey & Roberts)

Lipospheric vitamin C delivers 93-98% of the vitamin directly into the body, this means that far lower doses can be taken than normal oral ascorbate, thus avoiding loose bowel movements which can often be a side effect of high doses of oral vitamin C.
According to Thomas Levy MD, lipospheric C shows a ten-fold increase in the effect of IV vitamin C: “I found that liposome encapsulated vitamin C, taken orally, was roughly 10 times more effective clinically in resolving infectious diseases than the IVC. Having given thousands of IVCs and taken hundreds myself, this was difficult to comprehend, even though the clinical observation was quite straightforward. I subsequently realized that the liposome gave the ultimate bioavailability: intracellular delivery, including the mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and even the nucleus… 2 to 6 packets daily covers most individuals for most situations.”
Vitamin C is safe, is not a cause of "stones" (C can actually help dissolve them), and is "generally regarded as safe" (GRAS). It is recognized by the FDA to be safe and it is usually compared to the toxicity of water. Water and vitamin C are critical for human health, and generally considered non-toxic. No reports of death by vitamins are known.
Vitamin C May Be A Life-Saver: Mega-doses Can Counter Avian Flu, Hepatitis & Herpes, And Control Advance Of AIDS
By Jane Feinmann - The Independent - UK, 4-14-5
Imagine that a deadly virus is sweeping the world, killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of children. Nothing seems able to stop it - until a doctor stands up at the American Medical Association and reports on 60 cases involving severely infected children, all of whom have been cured. Yet his work, subsequently reported in a peer-review journal, is ignored, leaving the virus to wreak havoc for decades.

This isn't a docudrama about some futuristic plague - it's a true story about what happened in June 1949 when polio was at its peak. Dr Frederick Klenner, a clinical researcher from Reidsville, North Carolina, reported that a massive intravenous dose of Vitamin C - up to 20,000mg daily for three days (today's recommended daily allowance is 60mg) - had cured 60 of his patients. The findings were published in a medical journal, yet there was virtually no interest. Apart from a couple of minor trials, no attempt was made to find out if they had any scientific substance.

Relating this curious incident in a new book, Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases & Toxins: Curing the Incurable, Dr Thomas Levy, a US cardiologist, admits to being gripped by a range of emotions when he came across Klenner's work and other studies that replicated it. "To know that polio had been easily cured yet so many people continued to die, or survived to be permanently crippled by it, was difficult to accept."

Levy argues that the medical profession has routinely ignored research showing that high doses of Vitamin C can combat bacteria, toxins and severe viral infections including avian flu, SARS, hepatitis and herpes. And this is not a case of doctors sniffing at anecdotal evidence from a handful of enthusiasts. "Vitamin C is possibly the best-researched substance in the world. There are more than 24,000 papers and articles on the authoritative clinical website, Medline. Yet virtually the all the evidence has been dismissed." Levy even claims that Aids can be controlled if a high enough dosage of Vitamin C is maintained.

This is not the first time doctors have had their cages rattled over the benefits of Vitamin C. The controversy has been simmering since 1753, when just a couple of sucks of a lime were shown to prevent scurvy. In the 1950s the chemist Linus Pauling, a double Nobel prize-winner, promoted the use of mega-doses of Vitamin C, but his research was rubbished by clinicians.

Recently, the anti-Vitamin C sentiment has grown. It has been blamed for causing the formation of kidney stones, and a study published in the journal Science in 2001 found that even 200mg doses of Vitamin C "facilitated the production of DNA-damaging agents associated with a variety of cancers". This finding was widely interpreted as proving that Vitamin C causes cancer.

Britain's Food Standards Agency recommends taking a maximum of 1,000mg of Vitamin C a day. But a directive going through the European Parliament aims to reduce this to less than 100mg in an attempt to harmonise dosages across the Continent. Despite being dubbed "illegal" by the advocate general of the European Court of Justice last week, the directive could still be passed.

The controversy has not put off consumers, many of whom take Vitamin C to ward off colds. The 1,000 mg capsule is the most popular single vitamin in Britain, with the 500mg version second.

Some people argue that we can get sufficient Vitamin C from a diet rich in fruit and vegetables, but Levy disagrees. The problem, he says, is that a genetic design fault makes us unable to synthesise our own Vitamin C. Levy claims that while recommended daily allowances of 60mg are enough to prevent the development of scurvy in otherwise healthy people, much higher levels are required to maintain health when an infection strikes. At such times, the body begins to "metabolise unusually large amounts of vitamin C, keeping stores so depleted that the recommended daily allowance will not even prevent many of the symptoms of scurvy from developing".

Levy claims that the reason why most animals stay healthy throughout their lives, while humans spend years coping with one or more chronic diseases, is that animals make their own Vitamin C. The wild goat, for instance, makes around 13,000mg a day, rising to 100,000mg when faced with life-threatening infectious or toxic stress, according to a 1961 study published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

So, is Levy right? Should everyone be taking mega-doses every day and having intravenous infusions when they fall ill? Possibly.

Dr Rodney Adeniyi-Jones regularly gives 20,000mg doses to people with arterial disease and as part of a flu treatment protocol, describing its effects as "beneficial... but not miraculous". And Professor George Lewith of the Centre for Complementary and Integrated Medicine says that while Vitamin C is not a panacea, it does have clinical benefits depending on the dosage. "There may be doses that are therapeutic, while another dose may be damaging for the same condition. It is not a dose-response curve as with pharmaceuticals, and we need to be cautious until this is better understood."

But he also warns that: "Many of the [Vitamin C] trials have been badly done and what evidence exists is mixed. Both those in favour and against high doses frequently misinterpret the data."

Levy may well be seen to have an axe to grind, yet the evidence seems to support his view that apart from causing diarrhoea, mega-doses of Vitamin C are not toxic. He says that a series of studies published in leading journals have shown that, far from causing cancer, Vitamin C is a safe supplement for chronic cancer patients. Further large studies suggest that supplements do not put a normal person at greater risk of developing kidney stones.

According to Levy, the problem is not that people might take too much, but that they won't take enough - and thus won't get the desired effects. "There's a popular medical view that taking Vitamin C just makes expensive urine. Some of it is lost in urine, but the more you consume, the more stays in your body."

With a new book on the way claiming that Vitamin C deficiency is also a primary cause of cardiovascular disease, Levy cannot be accused of underselling his case. Nor can he overcome the fact that proper clinical trials are still desperately needed. Considering its overall safety, there appears to be no good reason why anyone with a chronic or acute health problem should not try, at the very least, a couple of week's regime of two or three 1,000mg tablets of Vitamin C a day.

Need to Know: So how much should you take?

For a cold - Three 1,000mg doses a day, according to the campaign group Consumers for Health Choice.

For flu - Although it's more serious, the viral load is similar, according to research, and taking up to 20,000mg a day could be beneficial.

For shingles - Research has shown that this painful post-viral condition can be pretty well cured by an injection of 3,000mg of vitamin C. Taking four 1,000mg tablets orally for three days could be worthwhile as well.

For a hangover - Taking 1,000mg daily in the week before a booze-up reduces stress on the liver. If you're drunk and want to look sober, a large dose of vitamin C will prevent drunken behaviour, according to a 1986 study, "Alcohol and Alcoholism".

To maintain your health - A 1,000mg daily dose is regarded as safe by the Food Standards Agency, and adequate to keep sufficient vitamin C in the plasma and tissues. "We believe this is absolutely safe and definitely beneficial to people's health," says Sue Croft of Consumers for Health Choice.

©2005 Independent News & Media (UK) Ltd.