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The Vitamin C Supplement Guide: Does Vitamin C Prevent Colds?

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What is Vitamin C

Also known as Acorbic Acid, Vitamin C is one of the 24 essential vitamins required by the human body. Humans do NOT produce Vitamin C and therefore it must be acquired through food. Fruits often contain high concentrations of Vitamin C, with papaya, strawberries, and oranges containing about 50-60 mg’s per 100 grams. Vitamin C can also be obtained from animal sources, usually found in high concentrations in the liver (20-30 mg’s).

The Vitamin C Claim: Supplementing with Vitamin C will prevent the common cold; taking mega doses of Vitamin C once you have a cold will reduce length or cure the cold.

The Research

One of the most researched vitamins on the market. Despite Vitamin C’s urban popularity as a cold-fighting solution, no studies have so far shown Vitamin C prevents colds in the general population.

General Conclusion

Vitamin C does not live up to the hype and won’t fight or cure the cold in the general populations. At most it will reduce the duration of a cold by a small bit.

Despite the urban myth surrounding Vitamin C, the amble amount of research done on it has yet to show Vitamin C prevents colds or cures colds in the general population. The one group that Vitamin C can reduce colds are athletes. Vitamin C can reduce the chances of catching the cold by half. If you are on Vitamin C and you catch a cold, studies show a 7 to 14 percent reduction in the length of the cold.

The general population likely gets plenty of Vitamin C from diet and fruit (Orange Juice, Oranges and other fruit, Vitamin C additives in processed food) which probably explains why supplementing with Vitamin C provides no real benefits.

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN C?

>>NO

The claims about Vitamin C are hype and not at all true based on the loads of research. Vitamin C won’t provide any benefits unless you are a hard training athlete. As a general cold preventative it will do nothing for the average person.

SHOULD YOU SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN C FOR MUAY THAI?

>>YES

if you train as a fighter (training 4-5 times a week, 1 to 2 sessions a day, with long road work, and maybe strength training). Studies do show Vitamin C can half the risk of catching a cold. Considering Vitamin C is cheap, has no side effects, and is readily available, I say it’s well worth supplementing with Vitamin C if you train like an athlete.

If you do have a flu, taking Vitamin C may reduce the duration by 10-14 percent. In real terms, this may knock one day off your flu duration.

>>NO

if you are not an athlete. If you train casually a couple times a week, Vitamin C likely won’t reduce your chances of catching a cold.



About Author

Ben has been living, training, and fighting in Thailand for the past 3 years. He has fought in a number of different combat arts such as MMA, BJJ, Muay Thai, and Western Boxing. Ben follows the latest fitness and nutrition research and is especially interested in how it can apply to combat sports to improve a fighter's performance in the ring. You can read Ben's full bio page here.

2 Comments

  1. narraandres@gmail.com'

    Hi Ben+,

    First off, thank you for this review, as well as the ones you made for the other supplements. What I want to ask you is your own judgement on Vitamin C claims regarding muscle-repair and recovery, as oppose to it simply being a cold-preventive nutrient. Thanks.

    • I strongly feel you don’t need it UNLESS you do not get any Vitamin C in from your diet. Taking Vitamin C supplements IF you consume oranges, limes, lemons, or other fruits that are high in Vitamin C are unnecessary. There have been a ton of studies for many years about the effectiveness of Vitamin C (it’s one of the most popular supplements in the world afterall) and all the research resoundingly points to Vitamin C doing very little to nothing for the average person. The exceptions being if you are deficient in it (most people are not) or if you are an athlete with hard training.

      I used to take a lot of vitamins (C, D, B12, E) everyday. I still was getting sick. Now I simply take a bunch of green veggies with a lime and some fruit and juice it all once a day and drink that. I stopped getting sick down here in Thailand. If at all you can, I encourage you to buy a juicer and add a cup or two of fresh vegetable juice (kale, carrots, lettuce, ginger, beetruit, some fruit for taste, a lemon or lime, etc) — you’ll pretty much get all the vtamins and enzymes you need per day and likely more. This is what I recommend any day over popping some pills.

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