Study Throws a Tissue at Vitamin C

Does vitamin C really help fight the common cold? A recent study says no, not really.

Dr. Robert Douglas of the Australian National University and Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki culled information from 55 studies conducted between 1940 and 2004. All studies explored whether taking 200mg of vitamin C a day helped prevent or cure colds, compared to a placebo group.

The 65 years of data showed that taking vitamin C doesn't significantly help ward off a cold. However, on a positive note, it does seem to decrease the duration of the cold, especially in children. Even though taking vitamin C at the onset of a cold doesn't seem to help, those that took it as part of their daily regimen actually recovered faster. The data also found that vitamin C may be particular beneficial to preventing colds in people under extreme physical stress - such as marathon runners, skiers or soldiers. Furthermore, there may be some validity in taking mega doses (up to 8000mg) to help recover faster once you've contracted the virus.

Compilation studies such as these are often less than perfect and findings should be taken with a grain of salt. There is still plenty of evidence to suggest that vitamin C can be a positive ally in our fight against the common cold.

June 28, 2005

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