Vitamin C is well-known for its cold-fighting abilities; at least, we believe it fights off colds. Many products determined to protect against getting a cold or fight a cold tout massive amounts of Vitamin C (like Airborne, which has 1,000 mg per dosage). However, studies have shown that while Vitamin C taken in moderate doses as part of a daily diet can help boost a body’s immune system against illness, once a cold has crept up on you, you’d need to consume a whole helluva lot of Vitamin C to really make a difference.
According to a study done by the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials by Medline and Embase, Vitamin C has no significant impact on reducing or preventing a cold, unless it’s taken in massive amounts daily. In their study report, subjects were given 200 mg of Vitamin C daily, whereas other subjects were given a placebo. The cold affected both sets of subjects equally, and their findings were that average doses of Vitamin C have no impact on preventing or treating a cold whatsoever.
However, in a separate study done in 1999 on 23 separate subjects, it was found that larger amounts of Vitamin C had a minor impact on cold duration. It was found that Vitamin C consumed by children was more helpful in easing a cold’s duration and severity than in adults. In this study, they found that adults taking 1,000 mg of Vitamin C during a cold experienced a minor decrease in their cold’s severity at 6%, whereas children taking 2,000 mg of Vitamin C experienced a 26% decrease in their cold, which is 4 times higher at only twice the dosage. Hmm.
So how much Vitamin C would you have to take to get rid of a cold effectively as an adult? According to the study, in adults, 2,000 mg of Vitamin C would have no great impact on treating the symptoms or severity of a cold. In order to really knock out a cold, the average adult would have to consume 8,000 mg daily, to make a cold less severe by up to 50%. That’s the equivalent of taking 8 Airbornes a DAY. Wow. That’s a lot of Vitamin C.
So does Vitamin C prevent a cold? Not really, if at all. But can it make one go away? Once again, not really, unless you are willing to take 8,000 mg a day, and at the onset of a cold for the best results. So, if you’re suffering from a cold (like I am) and taking 200 mg a day of Vitamin C (like I am) and you think you’re going to get better faster (like I did, until I found out otherwise), then here’s your wake up call. Your Vitamin C is likely doing nothing to help you. Aw, man!