June’s Nutrition Hot Topic: Debunking Vitamin C and the Common Cold

This post is hitting a little too close to home as I sit on my bed with Saved by the Bell on in the background. Covered in Vics Vapor Rub, a box a tissues to my right and countless cough drop wrappers strewn around me, I figured what better post to create today while I stay home sick from work than to feature the effects of vitamin C on the common cold. Here goes!

Image from Google.com

Image from Google.com

Vitamin C has long been touted as the cure all for the common cold. Feel a few symptoms coming on, drink a little orange juice and POOF! Those symptoms just disappear. At least that seems to be the way most people see it. But does vitamin C really have an effect on your immunity? A theory once seen as a truth some 40 years ago, now seems to be falling by the wayside.

Studies looking into the effects of vitamin C on the common cold have produced inconsistent results over the years. In a 2007 meta-analysis, researchers compiled study findings from the past 60 years on supplementation of >200mg of vitamin C and its effects on the frequency, duration and severity of common colds. The findings are as follows: if supplementation was started after the onset of a cold, there was no significant impact on its duration or severity. The researchers did find vitamin C supplementation had the most effect on those under extreme conditions – i.e. marathon runners; taking daily supplementation of vitamin C reduced this population’s risk for a common cold by 50%.

Bottom Line from Web MD:

‘The average adult who suffers with a cold for 12 days a year would still suffer for 11 days a year if that person took a high dose of vitamin C every day during that year’


So if you want to start supplementing vitamin C, check with your doctor first. The RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.

 Stay healthy out there!

Douglas, R.M. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2007.
Wed MD: Vitamin C for the Common Cold
UptoDate: “The common cold in adults: Treatment and Prevention.”


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