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Does Vitamin C Help Ease Cold Symptoms?

Numerous studies found vitamin C may ease the intensity of many cold symptoms including muscle aches, runny nose, and a persistent cough by about 23 percent.

[amazon-product text="Alacer Emergen-C Super Orange" type="text"]B0009RF8LA [/amazon-product]

Linus Pauling first brought attention to the use of Vitamin C for the common cold in the 1970s with his book "Vitamin C and the Common Cold."

Despite widespread adoption of Pauling's Vitamin C recommendations, experts say there's very little proof that vitamin C actually has any effect on the common cold.

(Image courtesy of Antonio Jiménez Alonso - All Rights Reserved)

Vitamin C has also been shown to shorten a cold's duration by anywhere from a few days to a week. Whether it prevents colds has been harder to establish.  There is a lot of disagreement amongst experts whether reaching for the Vitamin C at the first sign of a cold will actually shorten the impact.

Although some research shows it doesn't, one randomized study did find that power marathoners -- whose immune systems tend to be weaker after a race -- who downed 600 milligrams of vitamin C daily didn't catch as many colds as runners who didn't take any at all.

What do the experts recommend?  Many said it can't hurt to take a daily vitamin C supplement, particularly if you tend to catch colds.  One concern is that high doses of vitamin C (greater than 2000 milligrams per day for adults) may put you at higher risk for the formation of kidney stones, nausea and diarrhea which is a common side effect of excessive Vitamin C.   If you already have kidney disease you should always talk to your physician before taking excessive amounts of Vitamin C.

If you do come down with a cold, it's possible that you'll recover faster and not be as bothered by symptoms. Taking 200 milligrams is usually enough (despite what the marathoners did) since extra Vitamin C is excreted in urine.

Though orange juice is rich in C, it's best not to rely on it for best Vitamin C ingestion.  The reason orange juice is not the best source of Vitamin C is because content can vary widely, depending on the oranges used and how long the juice has been in the carton.

Personally I have found my Vitamin C is best ingested via Emergen-C.  I've been taking it for years and it's easily mixed with water.  It goes down nice and whether Vitamin C really helps me get over colds faster or not, it definitely gives me a sense of doing something rather than just surrendering to the bugs.

[amazon-product text="Emergen-C Vitamin C Fizzy Drink Mix, 1000 mg, Cranberry, 0.3-Ounce Packets in 30-Count Boxes" type="text"]B0009RF8L0 [/amazon-product]

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