Can vitamin C really ward off colds?

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Why We’re Talking About Vitamin C and Colds

We’ve all heard it before: “Take some vitamin C if you don’t want to catch a cold.” But is this popular advice rooted in science or is it just a myth?

Many people swear by vitamin C supplements, especially when cold season rolls around or when they feel a sneeze coming on. Let’s dig into what the research really says about vitamin C and its ability to prevent or treat the common cold.

What Does The Science Say?

Studies on Vitamin C and Cold Prevention

Vitamin C has been studied for years as a potential remedy for colds.

A significant review of 29 studies, involving over 11,000 participants and published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that vitamin C did not actually prevent colds for the general population.

However, the same study showed that it did seem to reduce the length and severity of cold symptoms.

Studies on High-Risk Groups

Interestingly, for people who are at high risk of vitamin C deficiency or engage in extreme physical activities—like marathon runners or skiers—taking vitamin C did appear to cut down the risk of catching a cold in half.

So, for some people, vitamin C could have preventative benefits.

Studies on Kids

For kids, the evidence is a bit mixed. Some studies suggest that vitamin C can make a cold shorter and less severe, while others show no benefit.

The “Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics” published a review suggesting that while vitamin C might not prevent colds in children, it could make the cold a little less miserable if taken at the onset of symptoms.

What You Should Know Before Gulping Down Vitamin C

Before you rush off to buy a large bottle of vitamin C supplements, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Consult Your Doctor: Vitamin C is generally considered safe, but taking too much of it can cause stomach cramps, nausea, and even kidney stones.

Always consult your healthcare provider before starting any new supplement, especially if you’re pregnant, nursing, or taking other medications.

Natural Sources: You don’t have to rely on supplements alone. Many foods are rich in vitamin C, including oranges, strawberries, bell peppers, and broccoli. Incorporating these into your diet can be a more natural way to get your vitamin C.

Not a Silver Bullet: Remember, vitamin C isn’t a surefire way to prevent colds for everyone. The best way to avoid getting sick is still to practice good hygiene, like washing your hands frequently and avoiding contact with sick people.

So, what’s the takeaway? Vitamin C might not be a magical shield against colds for most people, but it does seem to make the cold less severe if you already have one, especially for certain high-risk groups.

It’s generally safe, and there are lots of tasty ways to include it in your diet. As always, consult your doctor before making any changes to your health regimen.

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