Mar 29, 2013
When you feel a cold coming on, your first instinct may be to chug some orange juice or stock up on vitamin C supplements. But will that extra boost of vitamin C really help you cure — or avoid — a cold?
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C has no proven effect on preventing the common cold – and upping your intake won’t help you recover faster once you’re feeling sick, either. In more than 30 clinical trials with over 10,000 participants, researchers examined the effects of taking a daily vitamin C for cold prevention. They found no reduction in risk of developing a cold, and for those who already had the virus, no decrease in severity of cold symptoms.
There are a few exceptions, of course. In people who took high doses of vitamin C supplements daily as a preventative measure, the researchers found that when those people did catch cold, the duration of their colds were shortened by about half a day. And researchers also found that in people whose bodies are under high levels of physical stress in extremely cold conditions (they studied marathon runners), a daily dose of vitamin C cut the risk of catching a cold in half.
But for most of us, that extra glass of juice when we feel the sniffles coming on won’t do much. A better bet? Wash and sanitize your hands regularly to prevent the spread of germs, and keeping your immune system in tip-top shape by getting enough sleep, staying hydrated and lowering your stress levels!