It is an accepted fact in our society that Vitamin C helps prevent and fight the common cold. Especially during the winter, people stock up on products such as Emergency-C, Vitamin C pills, or drinks that have extra Vitamin C, in the hopes to help boost their immune system and fight the cold. Vitamin C, also known as Ascorbic Acid, is one of the safest nutrients for us. It is a water soluble vitamin and is therefore excreted from the body when an excess amount is ingested. Vitamin C is naturally found in certain citrus fruits and vegetables.
Since science is based on proof, researchers decided to test that theory and determine if Vitamin C is, in fact, a natural remedy for the common cold. In 2013, a meta-analysis of over twenty-nine studies looked at whether Vitamin C has any real value in helping with the common cold. And, contrary to popular belief, the results showed only an eight percent reduction in the duration of cold symptoms in adults, who regularly ingested at least 200mg of daily Vitamin C supplements. Children, who ingested 2gms of Vitamin C daily, showed an eighteen percent reduction in cold symptoms.
Additionally, taking Vitamin C did not decrease the incidence of the common cold in the general population; only in a select group of participants. That select group of participants consisted of people exposed to vigorous physical activities, such as marathon runners, soldiers, snowboarders, and skiers. They showed a fifty percent decrease in the incidence of colds. The meta-analysis also determined that there were no specific benefits to ingesting Vitamin C after a person already had a common cold. Vitamin C did not reduce the symptoms or the severity of the common cold.
Although more studies are needed to conclusively determine the role of Vitamin C in preventing and fighting the common cold, based on the information we know today, Vitamin C does not help with the common cold for the General population except for certain trained athletes. However, given that Vitamin C is an inexpensive and a fairly safe supplement if one were to take it, even if they only experience the placebo effect, there will be no harmful consequences.