Vitamin C and Treating The Common Cold​

Authors: Hemilä H1, Chalker E.

Department of Public Health, POB 41, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland.

It’s cold and flu season, which means increasing Vitamin C intake has probably been implemented into you’re daily routine in the hopes that it will prevent you from getting sick, or help if you’re already sick.

After reviewing the Hemilä and Chalker 2007 literature review on Vitamin C for prevention and treatment of the common cold, the following conclusions were drawn:

• Regular Vitamin C supplementation did not decrease cold incidence in a healthy population

• Regular Vitamin C supplementation did reduce cold incidence in people under acute physical stress, including marathon runners, skiers in very cold environments, and army troops in the subarctic.

• Regular Vitamin C supplementation did slightly decrease cold duration, with a more pronounced effect observed in children than adults

• In adults, regular Vitamin C supplementation decreased average sick days from 12 to 11 sick days per year.

• While taking Vitamin C regularly had a few benefits, taking Vitamin C therapeutically did not improve cold symptoms or duration

In general, taking Vitamin C as a supplement will do little for most people to prevent or treat the common cold or flu. Ensuring an adequate Vitamin C intake through a balanced diet, with a focus on fruits and vegetables (which are naturally high in Vitamin C) will help keep your immune system strong during the harsh winter months.

Additionally, regular exercise, ensuring adequate sleep, and practicing good hand hygiene will help ward off sickness.

Citation: Hemilä H, Chalker E. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.

The Cochrane database of systematic reviews. 2007(1):CD000980.