When you feel an itch at the back of your throat or start to get symptoms of a common cold, you immediately get a hold of supplements, vegetables and fruits filled with vitamin C to prevent it from coming. At least that’s what you’ve been told to do for ages.
It's a habit we know from a young age, but if you’re wondering whether it's actually true, you’re not alone.
What does Vitamin C do anyway?
In case you didn’t know, vitamin C is researched to be a powerful antioxidant that helps the body’s immune system to repair and regenerate tissues.
It is also recommended to help prevent scurvy (a very famous vitamin C deficiency disease).
A patient with scurvy - Image credit
So why is Vitamin C always recommended?
The belief that vitamin C helps get rid of your flu has been around for a few decades thanks to Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling. He popularized the theory in the 70’s that vitamin C helps to treat colds.
But over the years, this theory has been debunked many times!
With that being said, here’s what you need to know about the truth of vitamin C.
When is vitamin C useful?
Vitamin C does in fact boost your immune system. But there’s no actual evidence to suggest that a large dose of vitamin C can actually prevent a common cold or other types of illness for that matter.
In some studies, however, vitamin C has been proven to be beneficial for people undergoing intense physical stress, like marathon runners. Vitamin C was actually deduced to help lessen the risk of someone catching a cold.
Long story short...
If you are healthy and you’re just trying to prevent a cold from coming, vitamin C won’t do much for you.
But if you’re already sick, there’s your plus point.
Vitamin C definitely shortens the time of your cold as well as decreases the severity of your illness. You’ll also need about 200mg of vitamin C regularly for the whole course of your flu.
You can easily get that dosage from eating say, a small piece of papaya or some sliced red bell peppers.
Is too much vitamin C bad for me?
You may have heard that large doses of vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold. And it’ll supposedly work if you take a large dose every single day of the year, even when you’re not sick.
Although it is possible to do such a thing, there’s no evidence that suggests it’ll actually shorten the length of your cold, plus large doses are sure to give you some undesirable effects:
- Stomach cramps
How much vitamin C is enough every day?
Well for adults, the daily limit of vitamin C is 2,000 mg. For teenagers, it’ll be about 1800 mg. Lastly, for children (depending on their age) it can range from 400-1200 mg per day.
The bottom line
Powering up with vitamin C will not reduce your risk of getting a cold, but it can definitely speed up your recovery and reduce the seriousness of your symptoms.
As the old saying goes, too much of anything is bad. So remember to take vitamin C in moderation if you wish to be continually aided through the tough times.