Vitamin C: Does it Help Prevent Colds?

Vitamin C - Does it Help Prevent Colds?

The Relationship Between Vitamin C and Cold Prevention

Every cold and flu season, you might see ads or hear rumors that suggest taking high doses of Vitamin C will prevent illness. Let’s see if those rumors are true, what the recommended daily intake should be, and the best sources of Vitamin C.

What is Vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also referred to as ascorbic acid, is a water-soluble vitamin most well-known for its role in boosting the immune system. It is responsible for the growth and repair of bodily tissues, the healing of wounds, and the maintenance of healthy skin, bones, and teeth.

Will it help with the common cold?

While it will not prevent a cold, research shows that high doses of vitamin C may slightly decrease the length of cold symptoms.

What are some food sources?

Our bodies cannot make vitamin C so it must be consumed in our daily diet. We can get vitamin C from the foods we eat such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and tomato juice, and potatoes. Other good sources include red and green peppers, kiwi, broccoli, strawberries, brussels sprouts, and cantaloupe. While fruits and vegetables are the best natural sources of vitamin C, it is also added to some fortified breakfast cereals.

How should it be consumed?

Consuming a healthy eating pattern with 5 varied servings of fruits and veggies can provide the daily recommendations for vitamin C. Because vitamin C is water-soluble and easily destroyed by heat, prolonged storage and certain preparations may reduce the amount of vitamin C in the food item. Steaming is a better option than boiling or roasting to limit nutrient losses.

What does Vitamin C deficiency look like?

Vitamin C deficiency is uncommon in developed countries, however, it may still occur in those with food intakes very limited in variety. Deficiency symptoms will only present if vitamin C intake is well below the recommended guidelines for several weeks. Symptoms of vitamin C deficiency include fatigue, poor wound healing, swollen or bleeding gums, and hyperkeratosis (abnormal thickening of the skin). If left untreated, scurvy can become fatal.

Who is at risk for deficiency?

Certain groups are more susceptible to vitamin C deficiency than others. People who smoke, those who consume a diet with very limited food variety and people with certain chronic diseases such as cancer and end-stage renal disease experience low vitamin C concentrations. This can occur through an increase in the amount of vitamin C needed by the body or reduced absorption of vitamin C.

Need more Vitamin C in your diet? Come see me at Elite Sports Clubs for a free nutrition consultation and we can discuss ways to incorporate healthier eating habits! The professionals at Elite Sports Clubs offer comprehensive fitness support for an exceptional wellness experience. Contact our experts to get started today!

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Sarah Brunner Registered Dietician at Elite Sports Clubs

Written by Sarah Brunner, RDN, CD; Elite Sports Clubs Registered Dietitian

Sarah is certified in food allergies/intolerances and nutritional counseling, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; has a certificate in Dietetics from Mount Mary University; and a BA in Education and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse.

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