I’ve always heard that taking a vitamin C supplement will decrease my risk of catching a cold, and that if I do catch a cold, I can take a higher dose supplement to make it go away. Is this true?
A: The temps outside may be getting warmer, but cold season is still lingering for many of us. It’s a smart idea to stay prepared! In fact, did you know that more than 200 viruses can cause common cold symptoms, such as runny nose, congestion, cough, sore throat, sneezing, headache, and fever? Because colds are caused by a virus, antibiotics are powerless against them, leaving under-the-weather folks desperate for reprieve. Enter vitamin C — the most popular alternative treatment since the 1970s, when Nobel Prize scientist Linus Pauling endorsed the nutrient as a cure for the common cold.
Vitamin C for Cold Prevention
So, will drinking a glass of OJ really stave off the sniffles? Since the ’70s, numerous studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness of vitamin C against colds. Unfortunately, the results have not been overwhelmingly positive. A 2010 Cochrane review of 29 trials, which included more than 11,000 participants, found that regularly taking vitamin C had no effect on how often people got the common cold. However, regular intake of vitamin C may offer a decent reduction (up to 50 percent) in risk for the common cold for people who are engaged in short periods of extreme physical stress, which is great news for marathon runners and avid skiers (myself not included).