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A megadose is a large dose of a drug, medicine or vitamin, which is at least ten times the recommended daily intake. It can also be a drug that is extensively used to treat a variety of illnesses and is not to be confused with the slang term for heroic dose, describing the ingestion of a large, unknown quantity of drugs. In precise scientific/metric language, mega implies “one million,” as in megaton, an "explosive force equal to one million metric tons of TNT."

The symbol M is used in the metric systems of units and implies that the unit to which it is connected to is multiplied by one million is. As an extreme prefix, mega comes from the Greek word megas, meaning great. The second part of the word dose is English and depicts “a definite quantity of a medicine or drug given or prescribed to be given at one time.” The first appearance of the word in print was in Compton’s Encyclopedia Yearbook in the early 70’s. At the time vitamins had reached the magnitude of megafandom wherein a megaton of scientists were campaigning for the consumption of large ‘megadoses’ of vitamins for a muddle of miasmas. By 1993 the October issue of Omni was telling its readers that a two week study included ingesting megadoses of various ‘smart drugs’ to find out if it was actually feasible to notably increase intellect.

The most frequently noted megadose in use today is that of vitamin C, in the treatment of bladder cancer. And even though a megadose can be a mega quantity of any dietary supplement, there is scant scientific to support that megadoses are successful under most conditions, and various vitamins and nutrients are lethal in even modest portions. The classic consequence is that they do nada, and can even impair the person using them. Since the body washes away what it doesn’t use, expensive vitamins make for very expensive urine, while making a lot of money for the companies selling them.

Mega began to be used alone as an adjective by 1982 and the prefix had entered the informal arena of language within a decade. Most often it was used to described something that was “very large or impressive.” For example a 1993 issue of The New Yorker states that, “the younger cast members of ‘S.N.L.’, like the minor players on ‘Late Night’, seem to have sensibilities shaped less by standup comedy than by megadoses of MTV.”


OED Online:
Accessed May 1, 2005

Online Etymology Dictionary:
Accessed May 1, 2005

Mega - dictionary.new-frontier.info:
Acessed May 1, 2005

Accessed May 1, 2005

Take Our Word for It:
Accessed May 1, 2005

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