Vitamin C Has Little Effect On Common Cold For General Public

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

At the onset of a cold, many people will begin stockpiling their bodies with loads of vitamin C to help fight off these pesky viruses more quickly. Even though it´s long been commonly understood vitamin C can be used to treat and even prevent the common cold, there´s yet to be any hard science to support this.

Now, a new study has found the vitamin can actually cut the occurrence of the common cold in half, but only in those who often find themselves in times of short-term, heavy physical stress.

Digging deeper into the notion vitamin C is beneficial when fighting a cold, Harri Hemilä from the Department of Public Health at the University of Helsinki and Elizabeth Chalker from Curtin, ACT in Australia ran a series of tests on three groups of active people: Marathon runners, Swiss school children in a skiing camp and Canadian soldiers performing winter exercises.

Hemilä and Chalker found while taking vitamin C every day has little to no effect on the general public, those who aren´t strangers to some physical stress stand to benefit greatly from a regimen of vitamin C.

“Regular ingestion of vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population, based on 29 trial comparisons involving 11,306 participants,” write the authors in their study.

“However, regular supplementation had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms, which is based on 31 study comparisons with 9745 common cold episodes. In five trials with 598 participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C halved the common cold risk.”

In another recent study on the effects of vitamin C, researchers found people were affected differently by these daily doses depending on their age and gender. For instance, when given to a team of teenaged competitive swimmers, the vitamin cut the duration of colds in half, but only for the boys. The girls in the swim team were not affected at all by their daily doses of the vitamin.

Other studies have been conducted to test the common knowledge taking the vitamin at the onset of a cold shortens its duration. According to these studies, those adults who took up to 8 grams of vitamin C a day during their cold reported shorter down-time from their sickness.

This study also found those adults who took daily, 1 gram doses of the vitamin had an eight percent reduction in the duration of their cold. Children stood to benefit more from this daily dose, with an estimated 18 percent reduction in down time from a cold.

Yet, while this new study suggests those who are inclined to put themselves through periods of high physical stress will benefit more from a regimen of vitamin C, the authors suggest further research should be conducted. Furthermore, the authors noted a difference between a daily, lower dosage of vitamin C and taking a larger dose at the onset of a cold.

Just as a cold affects different people in different ways, so too does a therapeutic dose of vitamin C. Therefore, the authors recommend common cold patients to conduct tests on themselves to determine if the vitamin is beneficial to them.