Every year around this time of the season many people and clients ask what they can do to help prevent colds and/or boost their immunity. One of the most common nutrients they think to take is vitamin C. Why you ask? Because everyone thinks that it helps in preventing and treating colds. Does it? Actually no, not for the general population any way. SO why do we think this? It’s because in 1970, Linus Pauling made a suggestion that vitamin C could have some preventative effects on colds. But when researchers decided to try and redo the studies, they couldn’t come up with the same results. The only results they were able to come up with was that taking vitamin C was able to help athletes, soldiers, elderly or chronic smokers in preventing colds. So that answers that!
Also, to note, in these studies, it was shown that people who took higher doses of the supplement, DID NOT in fact absorb more, they actually absorbed LESS vitamin C. Crazy right? What happens with the rest of the vitamin C you ask? You pee it out. Yup! You pee out the extra. It is rare to have vitamin C toxicity, just so you know.
So if you don’t need a supplement, how do you make sure you get enough? Through FOODS! Now, you may think that the best source of vitamin C comes from citrus or oranges, right? WRONG! Red peppers are actually the best source of vitamin C. Bet you didn’t know that eh?? There are a lot of vegetables that are good sources of vitamin C, not just fruits. Also to note, cooking/heating up foods or storing them for long periods of time can destroy/reduce the vitamin C amount in foods. But not to worry, most of the foods that we eat that are rich in vitamin C, we eat raw.
As for vitamin C helping in possibly preventing cancer or helping with heart disease, it has been shown that vitamin C from foods may show promise, but not from supplements. It has been shown in different studies that nutrients found in foods has more benefits than taking them in pill form. So let’s start eating FOOD!!
So now you know, taking vitamin C won’t help in preventing or shortening your cold.
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.