Posted on Mar 06, 2013, 6 a.m.
Vitamin C seems to be particularly beneficial for people under heavy physical stress, with data suggesting it can halve the incidence of the common cold.
With over 200 viruses that can its symptoms, the common cold is a primary source of absenteeism from work and school, and a major cause of doctor’s visits. Whereas Vitamin C gained much popularity from research by Nobel laureate Linus Pauling in the 1970s, data varies as to whether it can prevent and/or treat the common cold. Hemila Harri, from the University of Helsinki (Finland), and colleagues completed a meta-analysis of 29 clinical trials enrolling 11,306 subjects that involved Vitamin C and the common cold. The team found that Vitamin C seems to be particularly beneficial for people under heavy physical stress. In five randomized trials of participants with heavy short-term physical stress, vitamin C halved the incidence of the common cold. Further, in a recent randomized trial carried out with adolescent competitive swimmers, vitamin C halved the duration of colds in males (but had no effect among female subjects). Regular doses of vitamin C of one gram per day or higher have reduced the average duration of colds in adults by 8% and in children by 18%. Writing that: "vitamin C may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise,” the study authors submit that: "[due to its] low cost and safety, it may be worthwhile for common cold patients to test on an individual basis whether therapeutic vitamin C is beneficial for them.”
Hemila Harri, Chalker Elizabeth. “Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2013 No. 1, 31 Jan. 2013.