The chilly season has rolled around, and we all know what that means (hint: it's not the holiday season) - colds and flu. Everyone's looking for a way to boost their immune system and skip out on a week of coughs and sniffles, which is where vitamin C comes in! But let's skip the hype and get real: does this nutrient truly help us fight the common cold, or is it all talk? Let's dive into the facts to reveal the reality behind vitamin C's involvement in fending off those pesky colds.
What is vitamin C?
Vitamin C, the famed ascorbic acid, is our immune system's trusty sidekick. You might even think of it as the MVP for maintaining our health. Unlike some nutrients, our bodies don't produce vitamin C naturally, so we rely on getting it from what we eat or through supplements. This vitamin isn't just your run-of-the-mill nutrient. Its stellar antioxidant properties are the real highlight, shielding our cells from those pesky free radicals. These troublemakers cause chaos by damaging cells, accelerating aging, and contributing to various health issues through oxidative stress. But here's where Vitamin C swoops in – it supports immune cell formation and reinforces physical barriers, like the epithelial cells of your skin, that shield you from cold-causing bugs.
We took a look at research by the Cochrane Collaboration, and here's the scoop: While vitamin C won't be your saving grace this winter from catching colds, it has been proven to reduce the duration of the ailment by a modest 8%. Not too shabby! Plus, it's even known to reduce the severity of common cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, sore throat, and fatigue. Especially for those who are consistently keeping up with their vitamin C intake! While not a complete eradicator of the cold, it could definitely make those sniffles and sneezes just a tad more bearable.
When and how do I take vitamin C?
If you were scouring the internet for ways to get rid of your stuffy nose and cough now, you're a little late to the party. Starting vitamin C after you're already feeling under the weather doesn't work wonders. To reap its benefits, you need to supplement with vitamin C or actively include it in your diet before you feel a cold coming on. Studies have shown an 8% reduction in cold duration for adults and an impressive 18% for the kiddos consuming Vitamin C regularly. Just make sure you don't overdo it. Health Canada recommends a dosage of 75-100 mg daily for adults with a tolerable upper intake level of 2,000mg. The body can't store vitamin C, so the excess vitamins are usually flushed out, which can lead to a revolving bathroom door! Balance is key, people!
Adding vitamin C to your Routine
If you're sold on the benefits of vitamin C and are looking for some ways to include it in your routine (other than OJ), below are some great options:
- Bell peppers
- Heal + Co Immunity Complex
- Heal + Co Elderberry Complex
When fighting the cold war, don't put all your eggs in the vitamin C basket. Stay hydrated, rest up, make nutritious food choices, and keep those over-the-counter remedies handy. While it might not be the foolproof solution you're looking for, it does play a role in softening the cold blow, and it certainly can't hurt to add it to your routine when the cold season rolls around.