Research findings on whether high doses of vitamin C can keep a cold at bay are mixed. Some naturopaths and physicians think vitamin C can play a key role in preventing or reducing the symptoms of the common cold but many in the health community remain skeptical.
LiveScience asked nutrition and infectious disease experts
, "Does vitamin C help prevent or treat colds?" The consensus was a resounding "maybe but probably not."
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Dr. Mark Levine from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases told LiveScience, "For the average person, vitamin C supplements for colds don't do much of anything, and I don't recommend them. ... Overall I say eat more fruits and vegetables." Dr. Aaron E. Glatt from the Infectious Disease Society of America says, "The general answer is probably not a lot. Vitamin C has a checkered history in terms of some studies showing mild benefits, while other studies do not show benefits for upper respiratory viral infections like the common cold."
Clinical Correlations parses high dose vitamin C
clinical data in its report, "Myths and Realities: Does Vitamin C Work for the Common Cold?" However, the report concludes, "As long as you consider the evidence, and adjust your expectations accordingly, there doesn’t appear to be much harm in reaching for some vitamin C when you feel a cold coming on. If, however, you want a more solid endorsement of vitamin C’s effect before heading to the drug store, you’ll just have to wait."
Dr. Stephen Barrett might be the No. 1 skeptic when it comes to high doses of vitamin C and the common cold. Dr. Barrett is the co-founder of the National Council Against Health Fraud and he runs a website called Quackwatch, which seeks to expose health fraud
. According to Barrett, two-time Noble Prize winner and biochemist Dr. Linus Pauling has a "dark side" and his "irrational advice about supplements continues to lead people astray."
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Pauling is considered the godfather of modern molecular biology and high dose vitamin C, but Barrett says Pauling's "impact on the health marketplace, however, was anything but laudable." He further states, "Pauling is largely responsible for the widespread misbelief that high doses of vitamin C are effective against colds and other illnesses."
Open-access medical journal PLOS Medicine published a study that claimed
, "The role of vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of the common cold has been a subject of controversy for at least 60 years." The study examined high doses of vitamin C but despite indicating that some data was "tantalizing," concluded, "The lack of effect of prophylactic vitamin C supplementation on the incidence of common cold in normal populations throws doubt on the utility of this wide practice."
This article is for information only and is not intended as medical advice. Talk with your doctor about your specific health and medical needs.
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