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Monday 9 December 2019

Vitamin C for Colds - Does It Actually Work?

Kris Gunnars BSc writes:
"The common cold is the most frequent infectious disease in humans, and the average person gets one several times per year. Interestingly, vitamin C has often been claimed to be an effective treatment.

Does Vitamin C Have Any Effect on the Common Cold?  
Around 1970, Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling popularized the theory that vitamin C helps treat colds. He published a book about cold prevention using mega-doses of vitamin C, or up to 18,000 mg daily. For comparison, the RDA is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. At that time, no reliable studies had proved this to be true. But in the following few decades, multiple randomized controlled studies examined whether the vitamin had any effect on the common cold.

The results have been fairly disappointing; 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.

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 almost halved the duration of the common cold. 

Summary Although vitamin C supplements have no effect on the risk of catching a cold, they appear to reduce its severity and duration.

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.

Summary Vitamin C is essential for the proper functioning of immune cells. It is depleted during infections, so a vitamin C deficiency may increase their risk.

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.

Summary Several other nutrients and foods may help you recover from a cold or even reduce the risk of catching one. These include flavonoids and garlic.

The Bottom Line 
Supplementing with vitamin C won’t reduce your risk of catching a cold, but it may speed up your recovery and reduce the severity of your symptoms.

While taking supplements may be necessary to reach the high vitamin C intake required to improve colds, make sure not to go overboard. That’s because too much vitamin C has some adverse side effects.

To meet your basic nutrient requirements, whole foods are generally a better idea. Good examples of healthy foods that are high in vitamin C include oranges, kale and red bell peppers."

Words above from Kris' article, which can be seen in full with all information and research links here

Dear reader, a variety of articles, and recipe ideas, are within this blog, not all may be suitable for you. If you may have any food allergies, or underlying health issues these must always be taken into account. If you are a diabetic and not sure how certain foods may affect your blood sugars, test is best, i.e. use your meter.

All the best Jan


Tom said...

...the best advice is to stay away from sneezing folks!

Ygraine said...

I found this post really interesting, and I have to say that since I have been taking a vitamin c supplement, I have caught fewer colds...and those I did catch were far less severe!
So, yes, I definitely believe that vitamin c works!!
Many thanks for a great post...😊😊

Hugs xxx

CraveCute said...

Thanks for your great article. The Vitamin C debate has gone on for a long time. I think as you say, just trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle will help ward off the severity of a cold. I haven't had one in a few years. I'm also very careful about hand sanitizer and hand washing when I'm out and about. Just want to say your recipes in previous posts have been excellent!

Valerie-Jael said...

Good, sound advice, thanks. Valerie

JFM said...

Another educational post..."food for thought".
Thank you very muchπŸŽ„

Chris Lally said...

Thankfully, you mentioned that there could be adverse effects by taking too much C. I made the mistake of doing that once and suffered some very unpleasant digestive problems, to put it delicately.

CJ Kennedy said...

Orange juice, sunshine in a glass.

Lois said...

Good information. Living in Florida, it is not hard to get plenty of vitamin C!

Sandra Cox said...

Vit C does work for me. If I start dosing as soon as I notice the symptoms, it usually knocks it out.

Divers and Sundry said...

Thank you for this helpful advice. I hadn't thought about taking Vitamin C for a cold in years, but maybe I should stock up now :)

Elephant's Child said...

Reducing the severity of a cold is a HUGE win.

Christine said...

good advice. said...


DUTA said...

Great informative post!
Echinacea and zinc are also beneficial in the cold crisis.

Susan Kane said...

Red peppers (or green and yellow) are delicious. I love the chart you show above.

Victor S E Moubarak said...

Great article. I agree about red peppers as a source of Vit C. I also read that Echinacea tablets can protect against colds.

God bless.

Lowcarb team member said...

Hello everyone, many thanks to you all for sharing your thoughts and comments …

Quite a few of the comments mention Echinacea, and the help it can give for the common cold.

There is an article called 'Echinacea : Benefits, Uses, Side Effects and Doses' which you may like to read,
" Echinacea, also called purple coneflower, is one of the most popular herbs worldwide.
Native Americans have used it for centuries to treat various ailments.
Today, it’s best known as an over-the-counter herbal remedy for the common cold or flu. However, it’s also used to treat pain, inflammation, migraines and other health issues.
This article reviews the benefits, uses, side effects and dosage of echinacea. "

Please continue to read it here:-

Once again many thanks to all for commenting both here and on other posts, it is appreciated.

All the best Jan

My name is Erika. said...

I've wondered about this. Thanks for sharing. I don't know what it is but I always crave oj and other vitamin C foods when I am sick. You mentioned echinacea, but how about elderberry? Hugs-Erika

DVArtist said...

Great info for sure. If I ever feel like I am getting a cold I immediately start taking Source Naturals Wellness Formula. Works wonders.

happyone said...

I like Tom's comment : ) and I'd add wash your hands often!!!

Rose said...

I think the key to a lot of things is moderation! (Not that I am always good at that, specially where soups are concerned) But I was glad to see what the negative side effects are of too much vitamin C...not that I am tempted to take that much.

DMS said...

Good to know! Whatever we can do to help lessen the effects and duration of the common cold sounds good to me. ;)

Lowcarb team member said...

My name is Erika. said...
I've wondered about this. Thanks for sharing. I don't know what it is but I always crave oj and other vitamin C foods when I am sick. You mentioned echinacea, but how about elderberry? Hugs-Erika

Hello, and many thanks for your comment and question.
I think, many may use elderberries but as with many foods, herbs etc. there are both plus points and also side effects …

Yes, elderberries do have many good health benefits but are not recommended for those who have kidney problems.

There is a good article that gives information about the benefits of using elderberries and also the possible side effects.
You can read it here:-

Once again many thanks for your comment and question,
Enjoy the rest of your week.

All the best Jan

Debbie said...

oooooh jan, i have always found this to be "interesting"!!!

i have the worst cold right now, i feel like i want to die!!

dellgirl said...

This is a really interesting and informative post, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It is very helpful. You explained it so well. Thank you for sharing such an informative article. This is good to know.

Wishing you a wonderful week!

peppylady (Dora) said...

I think the odds are cut down if you eat a well balance meal and wash your hands.
Coffee is on

Chatty Crone said...

Good advice.

Margaret D said...

My late mother used to take vitamin C tablets and she had a good diet..
Never have I taken Vitamin tablets.

Natalia said...

I try to eat food rich in this vitamin!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

This is such great information at this time of year! You give us info about what works but also the research behind it. I appreciate that!

Jeff (Sage) said...

It's a good thing I love bell peppers. What's the difference in the nutrient between green and red (and other colors) of peppers?

Lowcarb team member said...

Jeff (Sage) said...
It's a good thing I love bell peppers. What's the difference in the nutrient between green and red (and other colors) of peppers?

Hello, Jeff and thanks for your comment and question.
Bell peppers vary in more than just colour, with each providing varying levels of nutrition.
There is a good article that explains this - find it here

All the best Jan

Jeanie said...

I'm glad it really works. I always do it because it helps me feel more in control -- but I never knew if it helped or not!

stardust said...

Prevention is better than cure. What I do every day is washing hands with soup thoroughly and gurgling when coming home and before eating. But when having a cold unfortunately, intake of Vitamin C will be helpful to the recovery. Thank you for this detailed information.


stardust said...

I feel like that I hear the rustling sound of the summer river. The volcano eruption was shocking. Nice to know you’re not affected.


William Kendall said...

Quite informative.

Magic Love Crow said...

Very interesting! Thank you Jan!