VitaminC: Could help relieve symptoms of Common Cold

An analysis of 29 studies including 11,306 participants concluded that supplementing with 200 mg or more of vitamin C did not reduce the risk of catching a cold. This article explains about VitaminC: Could help relieve symptoms of Common Cold.

However, regular vitamin C supplements had several benefits, including:

  • Reduced cold severity: They reduced the symptoms of a cold, making it less severe.
  • Reduced cold duration: Supplements decreased recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children, on average.

A supplemental dose of 1–2 grams was enough to shorten the duration of a cold by 18% in children, on average.

Other studies in adults have found 6–8 grams per day to be effective.

Vitamin C appears to have even stronger effects in people who are under intense physical stress. In marathon runners and skiers, vitamin C alantost halved the duration of the common cold

How Does Vitamin C Reduce the Severity of Colds?

Vitamin C is an antioxidant and necessary to produce collagen in the skin.

Collagen is the most abundant protein in mammals, keeping skin and various tissues tough but flexible.

A vitamin C deficiency results in a condition known as scurvy, which isn’t really a problem today, as most people get enough vitamin C from foods.

However, it’s less known that vitamin C is also highly concentrated in immune cells and quickly depleted during an infection.

In fact, a vitamin C deficiency significantly weakens the immune system and increases the risk of infections.

For this reason, getting enough vitamin C during an infection is a good idea.

Other Nutrients and Foods That May Help

There is no cure for the common cold.

However, some foods and nutrients can help the body recover. In the past, people have used various foods to reduce their symptoms.

Few of these are scientifically proven to work, but some are backed by evidence.

  • Flavonoids: These are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Studies suggest that flavonoid supplements may reduce the risk of infections in the lungs, throat and nose by 33%, on average.
  • Garlic: This common spice contains some antimicrobial compounds that may help fight respiratory infections. Read this detailed article for more information.
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Can vitamin C prevent a cold?

Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy. The nutrient is featured in supplements promising to boost the immune system. Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claimed that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. Is there something to these claims? “The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Can vitamin C prevent a cold?

About vitamin C

Our bodies don’t make vitamin C, but we need it for immune function, bone structure, iron absorption, and healthy skin. We get vitamin C from our diet, usually in citrus fruits, strawberries, green vegetables, and tomatoes. The Recommended Dietary Allowance for men is 90 milligrams (mg) per day, and for women, it’s 75 mg per day.

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The impact on colds

The most convincing evidence to date comes from a 2013 review of 29 randomized trials with more than 11,000 participants. Researchers found that among extremely active people—such as marathon runners, skiers, and Army troops doing heavy exercise in subarctic conditions—taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C every day appeared to cut the risk of getting a cold in half. But for the general population, taking daily vitamin C did not reduce the risk of getting a cold.

More encouraging: taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day did appear to reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children, which translated to about one less day of illness. “That could be important for some people, since the common cold causes 23 million lost days of work each year,” says Dr. Bistrian.

What you should do

If you want the benefits of vitamin C, you’ll need to consume it every day, and not just at the start of cold symptoms.

Should you take a supplement? “It’s better to get vitamin C from food, because you also get other important nutrients. Eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day for general health, and you’ll get enough vitamin C,” advises Dr. Bistrian.

What about claims that massive doses of vitamin C can help prevent a cold? Some studies have suggested there may be a benefit, but they required doses of 8,000 mg per day.

At doses above 400 mg, vitamin C is excreted in the urine. A daily dose of 2,000 mg or more can cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and it may interfere with tests for blood sugar.

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