{"id":604390555954,"title":"Is Emergen-C Unhealthy? An Ingredient Review","created_at":"2022-11-12T20:25:02-05:00","body_html":"\u003cscript type=\"application\/ld+json\"\u003e\/\/ \u003c![CDATA[\n{\n \"@context\": \"https:\/\/schema.org\",\n \"@type\": \"Article\",\n \"headline\": \"Is Emergen-C Unhealthy? An Ingredient Review\",\n \"keywords\": \"emergen c, emergen-c, emergen c immune plus, emergen-c immune plus, does emergen c work, emergen c drink, emergen c immune, emergen c vitamin c, emergen c ingredients, is emergen c good for you, emergen c vitamins, emergen c zinc\",\n \"description\": \"Our research team reviews every ingredient in Emergen-C and Emergen-C Immune Plus to give our take on whether the popular cold and flu supplements are unhealthy. We highlight some questionable additive ingredients in both products.\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/is-emergen-c-unhealthy\",\n\"author\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"Calloway Cook\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/calloway-cook\",\n \"sameAs\": \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/calloway-cook\/\",\n \"jobTitle\": \"President\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"entrepreneurship, dietary supplements, herbal supplements, eCommerce, medical research\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": \"S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University\"\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"editor\": {\n \"@type\": \"Person\",\n \"name\": \"DJ Mazzoni\",\n \"honorificSuffix\": [\n \"M.S.\",\n \"R.D.\",\n \"C.D.N.\",\n \"C.S.C.S.\"\n ],\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/dj-mazzoni\",\n \"sameAs\": [\n \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/in\/dj-mazzoni-rd-cdn-cscs-00a33038\/\",\n \"http:\/\/djmazzoni.com\/\"\n ],\n \"jobTitle\": \"Medical Reviewer\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"exercise, drugs, pharmaceutical, health, workout, strength and conditioning, nutrition, dietetics, medicine, medical research, scientific research, scientific method, healthcare, patient care, wellness\",\n \"alumniOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"EducationalOrganization\",\n \"name\": [\n \"State University of New York College Oswego\",\n \"D’Youville College\"\n ]\n },\n \"memberOf\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n }\n},\n\"image\": {\n\"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n\"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Is_Emergen_C_Unhealthy_Thumbnail.png?v=1668303180\",\n\"width\": \"2104\",\n\"height\": \"2104\"\n},\n\"citation\": [\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC8078152\/\", \n\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/21328251\",\n\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/is-pedialyte-actually-healthy\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6097542\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC3620743\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4828828\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5044766\/\",\n\"https:\/\/www.cbc.ca\/news\/canada\/british-columbia\/wellness-milkshakes-chronic-vitamin-overdose-1.6363562\",\n\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4848651\/\"\n],\n\"mentions\": [{\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"cold\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"flu\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"vitamin C\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"zinc\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"added sugar\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"citric acid\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Thing\",\n \"name\": \"beta-glucan\"\n }\n],\n\"datePublished\": \"2022-11-12\",\n\"copyrightHolder\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\"\n},\n\"publisher\": {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Illuminate Labs\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/\",\n \"description\": \"Illuminate Labs is the most transparent supplement company in the U.S., and is a leading publisher of research-based health information.\",\n \"knowsAbout\": \"supplements, science, nutrition, exercise, health, medication, pharmaceutical, wellness, diet, weight loss, medical research\",\n \"publishingPrinciples\": \"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/pages\/editorial-guidelines\",\n \"memberOf\": [\n {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"U.S. Chamber of Commerce\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/www.uschamber.com\/\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Certified B Corp\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/www.bcorporation.net\/en-us\/\"\n },\n {\n \"@type\": \"Organization\",\n \"name\": \"Natural Products Association\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/www.npanational.org\/\"\n }\n ],\n \"logo\": {\n \"@type\": \"ImageObject\",\n \"url\": \"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Illuminate_Labs_Favicon_48x48_7595c3cc-e27b-47b8-a4fe-edcc7ed9b29a.png?v=1666502785\", \n \"width\": 48,\n \"height\": 48\n},\n \"foundingDate\": \"2019-01-30\",\n \"sameAs\": [\n \"https:\/\/www.instagram.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/twitter.com\/illuminatelabs\",\n \"https:\/\/www.linkedin.com\/company\/illuminate-labs-supplements\",\n \"https:\/\/www.youtube.com\/channel\/UCpgSJAsIPb-fZ25djtTxBEA\"\n ]\n }\n}\n\/\/ ]]\u003e\u003c\/script\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Is_Emergen_C_Unhealthy_Article_Header_Image_Optimized.png?v=1668302757\" alt=\"\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eDisclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to cold and flu prevention and treatment.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cspan class=\"dc\"\u003eE\u003c\/span\u003emergen-C is one of the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) supplements sold in the U.S. It’s a fizzy vitamin C tablet that can be mixed into water or other drinks, and the brand claims that “Emergen-C products contain a powerful blend of nutrients to support your immune system.” Many consumers use these products when they feel a sickness developing or when they’re actively battling a cold or flu.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eBut does Emergen-C actually contain ingredients proven to enhance immune function or are these just marketing claims? Do their products contain any unhealthy additive ingredients? Is Emergen-C Immune Plus more effective than regular Emergen-C?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIn this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the ingredients in Emergen-C based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is healthy or unhealthy.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eEmergen-C Ingredient Review\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Emergen-C_Ingredients_Optimized.png?v=1668302773\" alt=\"Emergen-C ingredients\" style=\"display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe most popular Emergen-C product is Emergen-C Immune Support, which is the brand’s original formula and the one you’ll see at most drug stores. It comes in a variety of flavors, and the ingredients for the “Super Orange” flavor are listed above.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eArguably the most important ingredient is \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003evitamin C\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, and Emergen-C provides 1,000 milligrams (mg). An extensive \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC8078152\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e analyzing data from over 11,000 trial participants found that vitamin C supplementation at or above 1,000 mg daily reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 18% in children.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eZinc\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e is a mineral that is also shown \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/21328251\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ein medical research\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e to significantly reduce the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy individuals, but it may be underdosed in Emergen-C. The supplement only provides 2 mg of zinc, while the above-linked meta-study documented a therapeutic dosing range between 30 mg and 160 mg per day.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIt’s important to note that this high of a zinc dose is not advisable to use daily; it was only supplemented at this dosing range to treat illness.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWhile Emergen-C contains some potentially effective ingredients, it also contains a number of ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThe supplement contains 6 grams (g) of \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003eadded sugar\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e per tablet. As we referenced in our \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/illuminatelabs.org\/blogs\/health\/is-pedialyte-actually-healthy\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ePedialyte reviews\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e article, high intake of added sugar is associated with a wide range of negative health effects like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and many Americans already consume too much added sugar from diet so we recommend avoiding added sugar in supplements entirely.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eCitric acid\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e is a preservative and flavor enhancer associated with whole-body inflammatory reactions in a small subset of patients according to a series of medical case reports \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC6097542\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003epublished\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e in the \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eToxicology Reports\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e journal.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eNatural flavors\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e is a broad descriptor that fails to identify the specific chemical compound used as flavoring agents. There are \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC3620743\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003edocumented\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e toxicity concerns regarding some flavoring agents, which is why we recommend avoiding natural flavors entirely.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOverall we consider Emergen-C potentially effective for preventing and reducing the duration of illness due to the effective dose of vitamin C, but we consider the product unhealthy overall due to the inclusion of a number of questionable additive ingredients.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eIs Emergen-C Immune Plus Better?\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Emergen-C_Immune_Plus_Ingredients_Optimized.png?v=1668302799\" alt=\"Emergen-C Immune Plus ingredients\" style=\"display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eEmergen-C sells an “Immune Plus” product with a slightly different formulation. The ingredient list above is from the “Super Orange” flavor again.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThis supplement contains \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003evitamin C\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003ezinc\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003eadded sugar\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003ecitric acid\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e and \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003enatural flavors\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e so our comments from the previous section about all of these ingredients stand.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eIt also contains a proprietary complex including \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003earabinogalactan\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e at an average ingredient dose of 250 mg. This ingredient was found to enhance immune function and decrease incidence of cold episodes by 23% in a 2016 \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4828828\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003emedical review\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, but the minimum dose used in any of the studies was 1,500 mg, or 600% of the amount in Emergen-C Immune Plus.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eBeta-glucan\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e is a type of soluble fiber included in this supplement at an average ingredient dose of 250 mg. This appears to be an effective dose, as a \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC5044766\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eclinical trial\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e published in the \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ci\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eJournal of Dietary Supplements\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/i\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e found that participants taking beta-glucan at the same dose as in Emergen-C experienced a 37% reduction in the number of cold and flu symptom days compared to participants taking placebo pills.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOverall we consider Emergen-C Immune Plus to be more likely to be effective for cold and flu symptom reduction given that it has two research-backed ingredients compared to the one we were able to identify in Emergen-C’s regular formula.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe do not recommend this supplement overall due to the inclusion of a number of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar and citric acid.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eMany Unnecessary Vitamins and Minerals\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe’ve established that vitamin C and zinc have some research backing for cold and flu prevention and treatment. However, as you can see from the labels, Emergen-C supplements contain a large number of other vitamin and mineral additives.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eEmergen-C Immune Support contains 14 vitamins and minerals outside of zinc and vitamin C. We cannot identify medical research suggesting that the majority of these nutrients have any effect on cold and flu, and we do not understand their inclusion in an immune enhancing formulation.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eEmergen-C is not a multivitamin; it’s a supplement that consumers use with a targeted purpose, to enhance immune system function and reduce symptoms of cold and flu. So in our opinion it’s illogical to include a wide number of ingredients that do not seem to support that purpose.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cb\u003eWe do not recommend regularly using supplements containing a wide number of added vitamins and minerals because this can cause elevated blood levels of those vitamins and minerals in some consumers.\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eAs \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.cbc.ca\/news\/canada\/british-columbia\/wellness-milkshakes-chronic-vitamin-overdose-1.6363562\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003ereported\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e by the CBC, in early 2022 a wellness brand named Isagenix had to recall several products from the market because the vitamin and mineral additives in their products were causing toxicity in some consumers.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eOur Recommended Immune Support Supplement\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e\u003cimg src=\"https:\/\/cdn.shopify.com\/s\/files\/1\/0047\/1524\/9737\/files\/Vitamin_C_Serum_Image_9faaa28f-b1ef-4e51-80b1-4204a1fe77b4.png?v=1668302828\" alt=\"\" style=\"display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;\"\u003e\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eOur recommended immune support supplement is \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca rel=\"sponsored\" href=\"https:\/\/bulletproof.fdf2.net\/NKr4Zv\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eImmune Complex\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e from Bulletproof.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThis supplement contains the same vitamin C dose (1,000 mg) as in Emergen-C, which we already established to be effective. It also contains 450 mg of \u003c\/span\u003e\u003cb\u003eelderberry fruit extract\u003c\/b\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e, which was shown in a \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca href=\"https:\/\/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov\/pmc\/articles\/PMC4848651\/\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eclinical trial\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e to decrease symptom load and reduce cold duration by a full two days.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eMost importantly, Bulletproof’s supplement is entirely free of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar or flavoring agents. It only costs $0.50 per serving at the time of writing this article.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eInterested consumers can check out Bulletproof Immune Complex \u003c\/span\u003e\u003ca rel=\"sponsored\" href=\"https:\/\/bulletproof.fdf2.net\/NKr4Zv\"\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eat this link\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/a\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003e to its product page on Bulletproof’s website.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003ch2 style=\"text-align: center;\"\u003e\u003cb\u003eConclusion\u003c\/b\u003e\u003c\/h2\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere’s a lot of bad science out there regarding vitamin C and illness. Contrary to what some popular media outlets have reported, there is significant clinical research backing for vitamin C supplementation to reduce incidence and duration of the cold and flu.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eEmergen-C supplements do provide an effective dose of vitamin C, and the brand’s Immune Plus also contains another effective ingredient, so we consider Emergen-C Immune Plus to be the better-fomulated product of the two.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eWe do not recommend either Emergen-C supplement due to the inclusion of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar, flavoring agents and citric acid. We consider Emergen-C supplements to be unhealthy.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e\n\u003cp\u003e\u003cspan style=\"font-weight: 400;\"\u003eThere are dietary supplements on the market that contain effective ingredients for cold and flu prevention that are free of the questionable additive ingredients in Emergen-C. Those seem like a more logical option in our opinion.\u003c\/span\u003e\u003c\/p\u003e","blog_id":49281925193,"author":"Calloway Cook","user_id":26601750601,"published_at":"2022-11-12T20:36:48-05:00","updated_at":"2022-11-16T19:52:50-05:00","summary_html":"We review every ingredient in Emergen-C and Emergen-C Immune Plus to give our take on whether the popular cold and flu supplements are unhealthy. We highlight some questionable additive ingredients in both products.","template_suffix":"","handle":"is-emergen-c-unhealthy","tags":"_related:immune-support"}

Is Emergen-C Unhealthy? An Ingredient Review

Is Emergen-C Unhealthy? An Ingredient Review


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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice. All statements are merely the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to cold and flu prevention and treatment.

Emergen-C is one of the most popular over-the-counter (OTC) supplements sold in the U.S. It’s a fizzy vitamin C tablet that can be mixed into water or other drinks, and the brand claims that “Emergen-C products contain a powerful blend of nutrients to support your immune system.” Many consumers use these products when they feel a sickness developing or when they’re actively battling a cold or flu.

But does Emergen-C actually contain ingredients proven to enhance immune function or are these just marketing claims? Do their products contain any unhealthy additive ingredients? Is Emergen-C Immune Plus more effective than regular Emergen-C?

In this article we’ll answer all of these questions and more as we review the ingredients in Emergen-C based on medical studies to give our take on whether the brand is healthy or unhealthy.

Emergen-C Ingredient Review

Emergen-C ingredients

The most popular Emergen-C product is Emergen-C Immune Support, which is the brand’s original formula and the one you’ll see at most drug stores. It comes in a variety of flavors, and the ingredients for the “Super Orange” flavor are listed above.

Arguably the most important ingredient is vitamin C, and Emergen-C provides 1,000 milligrams (mg). An extensive medical review analyzing data from over 11,000 trial participants found that vitamin C supplementation at or above 1,000 mg daily reduced the duration of colds by 8% in adults and 18% in children.

Zinc is a mineral that is also shown in medical research to significantly reduce the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy individuals, but it may be underdosed in Emergen-C. The supplement only provides 2 mg of zinc, while the above-linked meta-study documented a therapeutic dosing range between 30 mg and 160 mg per day.

It’s important to note that this high of a zinc dose is not advisable to use daily; it was only supplemented at this dosing range to treat illness.

While Emergen-C contains some potentially effective ingredients, it also contains a number of ingredients we consider questionable from a health perspective.

The supplement contains 6 grams (g) of added sugar per tablet. As we referenced in our Pedialyte reviews article, high intake of added sugar is associated with a wide range of negative health effects like obesity and type 2 diabetes, and many Americans already consume too much added sugar from diet so we recommend avoiding added sugar in supplements entirely.

Citric acid is a preservative and flavor enhancer associated with whole-body inflammatory reactions in a small subset of patients according to a series of medical case reports published in the Toxicology Reports journal.

Natural flavors is a broad descriptor that fails to identify the specific chemical compound used as flavoring agents. There are documented toxicity concerns regarding some flavoring agents, which is why we recommend avoiding natural flavors entirely.

Overall we consider Emergen-C potentially effective for preventing and reducing the duration of illness due to the effective dose of vitamin C, but we consider the product unhealthy overall due to the inclusion of a number of questionable additive ingredients.

Is Emergen-C Immune Plus Better?

Emergen-C Immune Plus ingredients

Emergen-C sells an “Immune Plus” product with a slightly different formulation. The ingredient list above is from the “Super Orange” flavor again.

This supplement contains vitamin C, zinc, added sugar, citric acid and natural flavors so our comments from the previous section about all of these ingredients stand.

It also contains a proprietary complex including arabinogalactan at an average ingredient dose of 250 mg. This ingredient was found to enhance immune function and decrease incidence of cold episodes by 23% in a 2016 medical review, but the minimum dose used in any of the studies was 1,500 mg, or 600% of the amount in Emergen-C Immune Plus.

Beta-glucan is a type of soluble fiber included in this supplement at an average ingredient dose of 250 mg. This appears to be an effective dose, as a clinical trial published in the Journal of Dietary Supplements found that participants taking beta-glucan at the same dose as in Emergen-C experienced a 37% reduction in the number of cold and flu symptom days compared to participants taking placebo pills.

Overall we consider Emergen-C Immune Plus to be more likely to be effective for cold and flu symptom reduction given that it has two research-backed ingredients compared to the one we were able to identify in Emergen-C’s regular formula.

We do not recommend this supplement overall due to the inclusion of a number of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar and citric acid.

Many Unnecessary Vitamins and Minerals

We’ve established that vitamin C and zinc have some research backing for cold and flu prevention and treatment. However, as you can see from the labels, Emergen-C supplements contain a large number of other vitamin and mineral additives.

Emergen-C Immune Support contains 14 vitamins and minerals outside of zinc and vitamin C. We cannot identify medical research suggesting that the majority of these nutrients have any effect on cold and flu, and we do not understand their inclusion in an immune enhancing formulation.

Emergen-C is not a multivitamin; it’s a supplement that consumers use with a targeted purpose, to enhance immune system function and reduce symptoms of cold and flu. So in our opinion it’s illogical to include a wide number of ingredients that do not seem to support that purpose.

We do not recommend regularly using supplements containing a wide number of added vitamins and minerals because this can cause elevated blood levels of those vitamins and minerals in some consumers.

As reported by the CBC, in early 2022 a wellness brand named Isagenix had to recall several products from the market because the vitamin and mineral additives in their products were causing toxicity in some consumers.

Our Recommended Immune Support Supplement

Our recommended immune support supplement is Immune Complex from Bulletproof.

This supplement contains the same vitamin C dose (1,000 mg) as in Emergen-C, which we already established to be effective. It also contains 450 mg of elderberry fruit extract, which was shown in a clinical trial to decrease symptom load and reduce cold duration by a full two days.

Most importantly, Bulletproof’s supplement is entirely free of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar or flavoring agents. It only costs $0.50 per serving at the time of writing this article.

Interested consumers can check out Bulletproof Immune Complex at this link to its product page on Bulletproof’s website.

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Conclusion

There’s a lot of bad science out there regarding vitamin C and illness. Contrary to what some popular media outlets have reported, there is significant clinical research backing for vitamin C supplementation to reduce incidence and duration of the cold and flu.

Emergen-C supplements do provide an effective dose of vitamin C, and the brand’s Immune Plus also contains another effective ingredient, so we consider Emergen-C Immune Plus to be the better-fomulated product of the two.

We do not recommend either Emergen-C supplement due to the inclusion of questionable additive ingredients like added sugar, flavoring agents and citric acid. We consider Emergen-C supplements to be unhealthy.

There are dietary supplements on the market that contain effective ingredients for cold and flu prevention that are free of the questionable additive ingredients in Emergen-C. Those seem like a more logical option in our opinion.




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