It’s official: Vitamin C fights the common cold and may be particularly helpful for people under stress.
That’s the key conclusion of a new analysis of studies that have examined the effects of vitamin C on cold viruses by the Cochrane Collaborative research organization, which evaluates multiple health studies to identify consensus findings and stronger conclusions.
For the latest analysis, Cochrane researchers reviewed five randomized clinical studies of individuals with heavy short-term physical stress, and found vitamin C halved the incidence of the common cold among them.
Three of the trials studied marathon runners, one examined Swiss school children in a skiing camp, and one involved Canadian soldiers during a winter exercise. A sixth study, tracking adolescent competitive swimmers, found that vitamin C halved the duration of colds in males, but the vitamin had no effect on females.
Overall, the research suggests regular doses of vitamin C — one gram per day or higher — reduced the average duration of colds in adults by 8 percent and in children by 18 percent, the new review found.
The Cochrane researchers noted, however, that while the findings “unambiguously show that vitamin C has a biological effect on colds, taking vitamin C every day to shorten infrequent colds does not seem reasonable. On average, adults have only a few common cold episodes per year and children have some half a dozen colds per year.”
They added that few studies have been done on the effects of vitamin C given only after the first symptoms of a cold appear.
“Nevertheless, given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration and severity of colds in the regular supplementation studies, and the safety and low cost of vitamin C,” the authors suggested, “it may be worthwhile for individual common cold patients to test whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial for them.”
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