Vitamin C: Does It Really Help With Colds?

A theory made popular in the 1970s by Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling says that vitamin C can help prevent and treat colds (via Healthine). Pauling published a book about the prevention and treatment of the common cold using vitamin C, even though, at that time, there was no research available to support this. However, recent studies show that vitamin C in fact does not prevent colds, but does help in reducing the severity and duration of them.

According to Healthline, it's helpful to supplement with vitamin C, especially when sick, as lack of it can weaken the immune system. The current recommended dose by the Food and Nutrition Board at the National Academies is 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C, but more than that is needed to reduce the length and symptoms of the common cold (via Insider)Harvard Health Publishing reports that 200 mg a day may cut the time of cold symptoms by 8% in adults and 14% in children, about a day less of feeling sick.

The best way to increase vitamin C

We can all agree that minimizing the severity and symptoms of a cold, even if by just one day, is worth the daily vitamin C increase. Enjoying vitamin C rich foods like raw red peppers, broccoli, and orange juice can get you well over the recommended 200 mg daily (via Verywell Fit). If you choose supplements instead, there is a variety to choose from, including capsules, chewables, and powders, available in different doses (per Healthline). Foods over supplements may be better for you in the long run, as the vitamin C from foods is associated with reduced frequency of numerous chronic illnesses.

It is important to note that boosting your vitamin C only when you are sick will not reduce the length and symptoms of your cold the same as supplementing regularly (via Examine). There is also a risk of overdoing the vitamin C, according to the Mayo Clinic, more than 2,000 mg daily can cause adverse reactions like insomnia, stomach cramping, and vomiting. Still, when it comes to conquering the common cold, vitamin C proves to offer a slight reprieve and is worth consuming on a daily basis.