Does Vitamin C Really Help with Colds?
For decades, vitamin C has been publicly acclaimed for being effective in both the treatment and prevention of the common cold. It is often readily available in various forms, including natural food sources, such as citrus fruit, and as over-the-counter supplements. Vitamin C is noted in medical literature for having many health benefits. It plays a vital role in important bodily processes that support the healthy functioning of organs and systems, including the immune system. However, since its promotion in 1970 for its use in treating and preventing the common cold, there has been insufficient research and, therefore, clinical evidence and data supporting this widespread claim. As a result, Vitamin C cannot be claimed to be useful in treating or preventing the common cold until adequate research and trials are conducted.
There is merit to the claim that vitamin C is beneficial in helping the human body ward off illnesses and infections such as the common cold. Vitamin C is necessary for the production and action of certain types of white blood cells, which destroy pathogens that lead to the development of disease in the body. Therefore, this theory seems to support the claim that vitamin C can, in fact, prevent and treat the common cold as it enhances the functionality of crucial components involved in the immune response (Carr and Maggini). Vitamin C, however, is just one factor of many that regulate how well the immune system functions, and so this must be considered before claiming its exact effectiveness in helping the body fight infections and diseases.
In 1970, a scientist by the name of Dr. Linus Pauling popularized the belief that vitamin C is effective in preventing and treating the common cold. However, this has since been argued as a valid scientific claim since the study he used to base this finding involved an insufficient sample population too small and limited to generalize the results (Iallonardo). Therefore, a wider population sample size with a more diverse group of subjects than was used in the study carried out by Pauling is necessary to draw a conclusion on whether or not vitamin C prevents the common cold and helps to fight it. However, recent studies have demonstrated that vitamin C does reduce the severity of the common cold in certain doses if taken when experiencing the early signs of symptoms. It should also be noted that, for healthy persons showing no signs or symptoms, the routine use of vitamin C in the diet has no direct effect on preventing contracting the common cold.
There is no denying that vitamin C plays an important role in the proper functioning of the immune system, as it regulates the production and action of vital components of the immune response. However, due to the lack of studies investigating its effectiveness in preventing and treating the common cold, the answer to this question is still pending further trials. It has been found, though, that vitamin C can reduce the severity of the disease—a promising finding, nonetheless.
Carr, Anitra, and Silvia Maggini. “Vitamin C and Immune Function.” Nutrients, vol 9, no. 11, 2017, p. 1211. MDPI AG, doi:10.3390/nu9111211. Accessed 1 Sept 2020.
Iallonardo, Marisa. “Does Vitamin C Help with a Cold? Yes, But It Won’t Help Prevent It.” Insider, 2020, https://www.insider.com/does-vitamin-c-help-with-colds. Accessed 1 Sept 2020.
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