SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – It is that time of year when people start developing symptoms of a cold. Many reach for vitamin C supplements to help prevent or combat symptoms of the common cold.
According to Tammy Roberts, nutrition and health education specialist, University of Missouri Extension, research shows a person can save their money because extra vitamin C does very little to reduce symptoms or the duration of a cold, except in extreme situations.
Conclusion. “Several well-designed studies have been conducted to test whether taking vitamin C could reduce the risk for developing a cold or lessen the symptoms. The conclusion of the studies was that vitamin C did not reduce the risk for developing a cold,” said Roberts.
In some studies, the cold was less severe in groups taking vitamin C, but the symptoms were not enough less severe to recommend taking extra vitamin C to treat cold symptoms.
“Many people have thought that they needed to take mega doses of vitamin C to treat a cold. In the few instances where there was less severity of the cold with vitamin C supplements, 250 milligrams per day helped just as much as 1,000 milligrams or 4,000 milligrams,” said Roberts.
There have been some studies where vitamin C taken in doses of 200 milligrams per day did decrease the risk of developing a cold by as much as 50 percent.
Extreme cases. “People who are living in extreme circumstances such as soldiers participating in sub-arctic exercises, marathon runners and skiers are the people who can benefit from vitamin C for cold prevention,” said Roberts.
Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. It has several important functions in the body which include helping to produce collagen. Collagen is the connective tissue that helps hold muscles, bones and other tissues together.
Vitamin C helps to heal cuts and wounds, helps keep gums healthy, helps prevent bruising and works as an antioxidant to prevent damage to body cells.
The Recommended Dietary Allowance for vitamin C is 90 milligrams a day for adult males and 75 milligrams per day for adult females. Vitamin C is found in abundance in citrus fruits but is also abundant in other fruits and vegetables.
“Vitamin C does provide many important functions in the body but unfortunately, preventing colds is not one of them,” said Roberts.
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