Food Myth Friday: Vitamin C Prevents Colds

If you've ever had a cold, been around anyone that's had a cold, or just have the ability to read or hear, then you've heard that vitamin C can help prevent getting the common cold. The common cold is common since the average person can contract the virus multiple times a year.

So, where did this fact originate, and is it correct? Let's check it out!


It all starts with the Nobel Prize

Well, Nobel prize winner actually. Linus Paulding really struck a chord with the general populace when he published a book about preventing the cold with these insane doses of vitamin C. He was pushing folks to take up to 18,000mg! The recommended daily intake is sitting at 75mg for women and 90mg for men.

Unfortunately for Paulding, there were no studies to back up the claim. Studies done in the following decades were not very supportive of the 1970s claim. In a study of more than 11,000 folks, vitamin C did not show any boost in preventing catching a cold when supplemented with 200mg ore more a day.

It does, however, have some specific benefits when it comes to fighting off a cold.

  • It reduces the duration of sickness.

  • It reduces the severity of sickness.


How does Vitamin C work?

It's a powerful antioxidant that has many primary and secondary functions within the body. One of the most visible of these functions is the production of collagen in the skin and other tissues. This makes the tissue both strong and flexible!

However, it's also true that vitamin C is very concentrated in our immune cells and can become quickly depleted once we start fighting off an infection. Therefore it makes sense that our fast depleting vitamin C stores in our immune system cells use a boost in vitamin C to more promptly fight off the infection!

Not getting enough vitamin C is known as scurvy, which was a problem for most mariner types back in the day, but there is very little of that around today thanks to increased access to foods that contain vitamin C. The fact remains that deficiency in vitamin C does increase the risk for infection even if an overdose of it doesn't seem to help stave off infection.


The Synthetic vs. Natural Argument

Alrighty, here we go! As with most things, there are two sides to this. Those that take their vitamin C supplements and the folks that won't touch the synthetic stuff because it "Doesn't absorb in the body the same way."

After an exhaustive study from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, it turns out there is no significant difference in natural vs. synthetic ascorbate (vitamin C). This study included many different species, including humans, in its findings.

My take on this is that, yes, if you don't get enough from your food, then, by all means, take that supplement. However, food is packed with other things that help boost the immune system, such as antioxidants such as flavonoids, and other essential vitamins and minerals. And they are significantly more cost-effective than synthetic alternatives! !


Foods with Considerable Vitamin C

Fruits are amounts for the entire fruit.

Other amounts are 1C unless otherwise specified.

  • Chili Peppers (109mg / 121% Daily Recommended Value)

  • Guava (126mg / 140% DRV)

  • Yellow Bell Pepper (1/2 C=137mg / 152% DRV)

  • Thyme (28g=45mg / 50% DRV)

  • Mustard Greens (195mg / 217% DRV)

  • Kale (80mg / 89% DRV)

  • Kiwi (71mg / 79% DRV)

  • Broccoli (102mg / 114% DRV)

  • Brussels Sprouts (98mg / 108% DRV)

  • Lemons (83mg / 92% DRV)

  • Papayas (87mg / 97% DRV)

  • Strawberries (1C=89mg / 99% DRV)

  • Oranges (70mg / 78% DRV)


So, no... dosing up on that Emergen-C won't help you stave off a cold this cold & flu season. However, taking some vitamin C, or consuming the all-nutritious items listed above might just help you fight off that common pesky cold.

Therefore, feed your whole body with some cost-effective food times for a full-body effect, or shell out some extra bucks for that easy-to-take supplement. Either way, your body will be back to normal faster than those that don't!

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