MYTH: VITAMIN C CAN KEEP YOU FROM GETTING A COLD.
TRUTH: IT’S THE TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOU START SEEING MORE RUNNY NOSES AROUND THE SCHOOL YARD. AND YOUR OFFICE MATE IS BLOWING HIS NOSE MORE THAN USUAL. NOT TO MENTION, YOU HAVE TO GET ON A PLANE TO VISIT RELATIVES OVER THE HOLIDAYS.
So you decide it’s time to start taking your vitamin C supplements. But will the strict doses of vitamin C really prevent a cold or reduce the symptoms?
This controversial subject was revisited earlier this year in a meta-analysis, and according to P.K. Kaliban, a physician assistant with the
Torrance Memorial Physician Network, the conclusion was “that there was no significant effect in the reduction of developing a cold with vitamin C supplementation except for people involved in extreme physical activities, such as marathon runners.”
So where did this myth originate? Two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling popularized this theory in the 1960s when he wrote Vitamin C and the Common Cold, urging people to take up to 50 times the daily recommended allowance of vitamin C to prevent multiple health issues, including colds. “The book was an instant best seller, and vitamin manufacturers could not keep up with the demand—later known as the ‘the Linus Pauling effect,’” says Kaliban.
However, don’t toss out those supplements just yet. There is some data showing a slight reduction in the duration of symptoms with those taking vitamin C. Kaliban says to remember there are many variables that are difficult to control when looking at this data.
Plus, “We can never underestimate the power of our minds,” she adds. “Even if results are simply a placebo effect, one ends up feeling better with a low-cost and safe regimen.”