Vitamin C for the Common Cold?

By April 5, 2018May 23rd, 2023vitamin C

The idea originally came from Nobel prize-winning chemist Linus Pauling in the 1970s. Pauling reported that there was ‘strong evidence’ that vitamin C decreased the incidence of the common cold.

So, what’s the real evidence?

Firstly, what about daily vitamin C stopping you getting a cold ? Well, in 2013 a review of a lot of different trials and concluded that daily vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population, based on 29 trial comparisons involving 11,306 participants.

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So, can daily doses make colds less bad when you do get one? The 2013 analysis reported that based on 31 study comparisons with 9745 common cold episodes, regular supplementation had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms. Regular supplementation trials found that 0.2 g/day or more reduced common cold duration modestly by 8% in adults and by 14% in children and 1 to 2 g/d of vitamin C in children reduced common cold duration by 18%. It’s not much!

Can a Megadose of Vitamin C Help?

Can a big dose once you start feeling a cold coming on help? Studies are inconsistent. One large trial with adults reported benefit from an 8 g therapeutic dose at the onset of symptoms, and two therapeutic trials using five-day supplementation reported benefit, but many others showed nothing – so the evidence is still unclear. And large doses of vitamin C may not be good for you: over 1g per day can cause stomach problems.


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