Emergen-C vs. Airborne
September 11, 2007 3:18 PM   Subscribe

Emergen-C vs. Airborne

I discovered Airborne earlier this year, and have used it to much success (I think) when I feel like I'm coming down with something and want to nip it in the bud. Because I hate being sick (go figure) and have never found anything that works quite this well, I have developed a slightly silly brand loyalty to Airborne.
I confess, I have yet to try Emergen-C, but I've been told that it's 'exactly the same' and a lot cheaper. I haven't been able to find anything to back up the 'exactly the same' statement, but I do know that, were it the same, Emergen-C would certainly be a better bargain. Any facts, experiences, opinions, etcetera?
*Note: I am not a hypochondriac...just grateful for a product that seems to work well. And I'm poor, therefore willing to make the switch. Yeah, yeah, I could just try it and see, but I thought I'd ask what the hive-mind/body had to say, first.
posted by SixteenTons to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Presumably Emergen-C can't be less effective than Airborne.
posted by ManInSuit at 3:27 PM on September 11, 2007

Emergen-C works better for me than Airborne, tastes better, and dissolves faster. If it's a placebo, at least it's effective! Try the "Tropical" flavor.
posted by sleevener at 3:29 PM on September 11, 2007

Both are basically just high-C Vitamin supplements. I take Emergen-C when I'm not in the mood for a multivitamin.

But: beware the fat-soluble vitamin content of these - that Wikipedia article states that if you take the prescribed dose of Airborne, you will exceed the RDA of vitamin A.
posted by tomierna at 3:30 PM on September 11, 2007

You may want to read the Scientific American article on Airborne and save your money.
posted by humanfont at 3:48 PM on September 11, 2007

I doubt either product does anything in regards to colds (other than mild vitamin c effects), but Airborne acts like a stimulant to me. I wonder if people are mistaking fatigue for "coming down with a cold" taking this herbal stimulant and claiming it cured their "cold."

That said, this stuff is all very cheap. The only way to know how a drug is going to affect you is to take it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:54 PM on September 11, 2007

Have some tea and a multi-vitamin instead. Tastier and much less chance of getting Vitamin A poisoning
posted by 0xFCAF at 3:56 PM on September 11, 2007

I appreciate EmerGenC because it comes in more flavors than Airborne. I don't think it helps me get over a cold faster, but it does act like a mild stimulant, much as caffeine would.
As I'd rather not have a caffeine addiction, I use EmerGenC. Raspberry, thx.
posted by lilithim at 4:23 PM on September 11, 2007

I highly recommend the Scientific American article that humanfont linked to. Airborne is pretty useless, and if Emergen-C is "the same," then...well, there you go.

Anecdotally, I've heard good things about Cold-eze., and at least there seems to be *some* benefits from zinc cold remedies...maybe...

Personally, I just stick with orange juice and chicken soup, even before I get a cold.
posted by edjusted at 4:28 PM on September 11, 2007

I'd suggest 2g of cheap, standard vitamin C on the preventative end and three echinacea capsules if you end up feeling sick - which tends to be a brief period of dehydration more than being any virus.
posted by kcm at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2007

Personally, I double up.
I drink Emergen-C more often, but when I can I have a glass of Walborne (Walgreens brand) also.

Placebo or not, an OD of Vitamin C and whatever else is in these things helps kick my colds in the butt.
posted by blastrid at 4:34 PM on September 11, 2007

Response by poster: Hmmm...a few different sides there. Thanks everyone. Thanks for the article, Humanfont.
posted by SixteenTons at 4:35 PM on September 11, 2007

Cold-Fx, which is now available in the U.S., seems effective to me, and actually has some research in peer-reviewed journals to back up its claims. (Full list of publications re clinical trials here.)
posted by maudlin at 4:49 PM on September 11, 2007

emergence is yummier, but I do Trader Joe's now.
posted by k8t at 5:05 PM on September 11, 2007

Emergen-C is cheaper, tastier, and is especially great if you cut it with fruit juice.
posted by padraigin at 5:07 PM on September 11, 2007

i heard on some npr show (radio lab maybe?) that all of these things work only because of the placebo effect, and are not actually effective in any medical way. not that there is anything wrong with taking them - i do even though i know they don't work, just because it can't hurt, i guess.

i prefer the trader joe's knockoff. it's cheap and has way more servings than airborne.
posted by timory at 5:53 PM on September 11, 2007

I take a multi every day, and a 500mg C when I'm feel something coming on. Just throwing that in. Airborne has always sounded fishy to me.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 7:38 PM on September 11, 2007

". . . it can't hurt, i guess."

Not the best guess. From the SciAm article:

Worse, vitamin A is unsafe in doses greater than 10,000 units a day, and Airborne contains 5,000 units per tablet and recommends five pills a day or more.

Googling for Airborne yielded a post about mega-dosing by taking too much Airborne.

Emergen-C appears to be more sensibly formulated, but I'd still look into it further if I were taking it.
posted by D.C. at 8:34 PM on September 11, 2007

Nthing "They're both snake oil, save your money."
posted by Electrius at 2:11 AM on September 12, 2007

Does anybody really take airborne 5 times a day? There's an easy way around all of this Vitamin A business; don't take as much.
posted by craven_morhead at 9:05 AM on September 12, 2007

There's an easy way around all of this Vitamin A business; don't take as much.

Or none at all.
posted by electroboy at 9:15 AM on September 12, 2007

This has been discussed here before. Believe what you want, but there is no scientific evidence for Airborne or Emergen-C or vitamin C megadosing etc. And you do risk something, as comments above point out, even if you don't consider wasting your money a "risk."

People are so gullible.
posted by fourcheesemac at 11:03 AM on September 12, 2007

I'm not recommending this, but my husband and I regularly make cocktails with both, often putting multiple tablets in a liter bottle.

It's like Tang or Crystal Light or any other powdered flavorer of water.

I recently had some full-workup blood assays (including vitamins) and apparently all is well, so, eh.

Also, don't get the hot apple cider one. It's nasty.
posted by nekton at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2007

Emergen-c is the only way to go from personal experience.
posted by Black_Umbrella at 7:38 AM on December 5, 2007

btw, emergen-c mixed with juice or even hot tea is really good and much easier to drink
posted by Black_Umbrella at 7:39 AM on December 5, 2007

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