Vitamin C pretty useless when it comes to colds

Since the 1970's, when research advocated that doses of Vitamin C would help alleviate symptoms of the common cold, that doctrine has been generally accepted.

But in a recent review of past clinical research on this topic, it is suggested that the public's enthusiasm for vitamin C may be unjustified.

In an attempt to discover whether vitamin C could help in the prevention of a cold, researchers Robert M Douglas, from the Australian National University, and Harri Hemila of the University of Helsinki, reviewed 23 past studies on vitamin C and the common cold conducted over the last 65 years.

They found that vitamin C did not appear to help the general public in the prevention of colds, but the authors did find evidence that vitamin C could help prevent colds in people exposed to extreme physical exertion, such as marathon runners.

The researchers also found that those people who were given vitamin C and then caught a cold, experienced a small reduction in the duration of the cold compared with those taking a placebo.

In one of the trials, patients who took a single, very high dose of the vitamin (8 g) on the day their symptoms started experienced a shorter illness compared with people who took a placebo pill.

The authors declare the results in this single trial as "tantalizing and deserving of further assessment."

The review is published in this month's open access journal, PLoS Medicine.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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