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Does Vitamin C Help With Flu

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Other Nutrients And Foods That May Help

VITAMIN C: Does it help with colds? Are oranges the best way to get it?

There is no cure for the common cold.

However, some foods and nutrients can help the body recover. In the past, people have used various foods to reduce their symptoms.

Few of these are scientifically proven to work, but some are backed by evidence.

  • Flavonoids: These are antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables. Studies suggest that flavonoid supplements may reduce the risk of infections in the lungs, throat and nose by 33%, on average (
  • ).


Several other nutrients and foods may help you recover from a cold or even reduce the risk of catching one. These include flavonoids and garlic.

Oral Supplementation And Side Effects

Vitamin C has an excellent safety profile, primarily due to its high water solubility and rapid clearance of excess levels by the kidneys . Although it is not possible to establish a UL for vitamin C, values of 1,0002,000 mg/day have been suggested as prudent limits by some countries, based on a potential risk of osmotic diarrhea and related gastrointestinal distress in some individuals at higher doses .

Since vitamin C is partially converted to oxalate and excreted in the urine, high doses of vitamin C could be associated with calcium oxalate stone formation . Ferraro et al. studied 156,735 women and 40,536 men, who reported episodes of kidney stones during an average follow-up of 11.311.7 years. The authors signicantly correlated the total vitamin C intake with a higher risk of incident kidney stones in men, but not in women. However, it is important to outline that this study had limitations to be considered. The presence of confounding factors were not taken into account during the follow-up, and the authors assessed vitamin C intake only through a questionnaire and with very long time intervals .

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How Much Vitamin C Should You Take Per Day When Sick

The Food and Nutrition Board recommends that men aged 19 and older intake at least 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, and women should get at least 75 milligrams. Most people actually get more than that.

But be careful about getting too much vitamin C. The maximum tolerated dose is 2000 milligrams per day for adults and 400 to 1800 milligrams for children aged 1-18 years. Exceeding this amount can cause gastrointestinal distress and diarrhea.

If youre trying to get more vitamin C in your diet, citrus actually isnt your best bet. Although it is an excellent source, bell peppers are actually the best. One cup of chopped raw red bell pepper contains 200 to 300 milligrams of vitamin C, about 100 milligrams more than a cup of orange juice. Other good sources of vitamin C include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kiwi, strawberries, papaya, pineapple, and cantaloupe.

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What Are The Benefits Of ‘organic’ Vitamin C Vs Supplements

This raises the question: Is supplementing with vitamin C helpful as an antioxidant? It’s hard to say. There are some modest research findings, but the results are mixed. Is this inconsistency of findings possibly due to differences in the amount of vitamin C ingested, or the quality? Or is it the source of vitamin C? In other words, does naturally occurring vitamin C provide an antioxidant that is helpful, while vitamin C synthesized in a laboratory is not?

To be sure, controversy abounds when it comes to organic versus synthetic supplements. Biochemists argue that because the biochemical structure of vitamin C can be replicated and synthesized exactly in the laboratory, the effects should be identical to naturally-occurring vitamin C. While this makes perfect sense, some experts argue that an important difference is the undetectable life force contained in natural sources that is absent in synthetic laboratory concoctions.

Zinc May Be Your Best Bet Against The Common Cold

How exactly does Vitamin C help your immune system fight ...

Unlike vitamin C, which studies have found likely does nothing to prevent or treat the common cold, zinc may actually be worth a shot this season. The mineral seems to interfere with the replication of rhinoviruses, the bugs that cause the common cold.

In a 2011 review of studies of people whoâd recently gotten sick, researchers looked at those whoâd started taking zinc and compared them with those who just took a placebo. The ones on zinc had shorter colds and less severe symptoms.

Zinc is a trace element that the cells of our immune system rely on to function. Not getting enough zinc can affect the functioning of our T-cells and other immune cells. But itâs also important not to get too much: an excess of the supplement may actually interfere with the immune systemâs functioning and have the opposite of the intended result.

So instead of chugging fizzy drinks loaded with vitamin C, stick to getting the nutrient from food. Strawberries and many other fruits and veggies are a great source. And if you arenât getting enough zinc in your diet, try a zinc supplement. Chickpeas, kidney beans, mushrooms, crab, and chicken are all rich in zinc, and zinc-rich lozenges may also help boost your intake.

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Easy Homemade Chicken Rice Soup


3 32-oz. cans of low-sodium chicken broth1 onion 3 stalks of celery ¼ cup uncooked riceParsley


Heat broth to a boil. Add vegetables. Cover with a lid and cook for 10 minutes at a low boil. Add rice. Cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes at a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Add chicken, and heat for 30 minutes or more. Before serving, top with fresh parsley.

Nutrition Facts:

Per 1½ cupTotal Calories: 95 Total Fat: 1.6 g Saturated Fat: 0 g Total Carbohydrate: 11 g Dietary Fiber: 1 g Sodium: 204 mg Protein: 8.3 g

Do you have a favorite healthy, symptom-soothing recipe? Share it with us on or .

Q: Will Vitamin C Or Zinc Immune Boosters Really Help My Cold

A: Many products are marketed to prevent and treat colds and other viral upper respiratory infections. These range from plain vitamin C to fancier powders you can mix with water and drink. Unfortunately, evidence that these products show actual benefits is lacking.

Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our site helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services.Policy

Vitamin C is an important nutrient. Yet studies evaluating its effectiveness during acute illness show, at best, an 8% speedier recovery meaning youll feel better 13 hours sooner during a typical seven-day illness. At worst, the studies demonstrate no benefit at all.

Some cold and flu prevention products contain zinc. While an old study on its use in treating colds was promising, the results were questioned because a zinc product manufacturer funded the research.

No studies on zinc have since shown any benefit. Whats more, toxicity from taking high amounts of zinc is a definite risk.

Its hard to know whether taking these cold products might produce a placebo effect or if any perceived benefit is due to hydration and electrolyte replacement.

So while taking vitamins when youre sick probably wont hurt you, the best medicine still seems to be time, fluids and rest.

Family medicine physician Donald Ford, MD

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Lowering The Risks Of Catching A Cold With Zinc And Vitamin C

To lower the risk of catching a cold, it is advisable to pay attention to the vitamin C and zinc balance, and not only during the flu season. The German Nutrition Society recommends healthy adults a daily intake of at least 7 to 10 mg of zinc and 95 to 110 mg of vitamin C, depending on gender, to satisfy the normal need. If there is no illness or another acute deficiency situation, this can be accomplished simply by a balanced diet. Zinc is found, for example, in cheese, peanuts, and oatmeal, whereas vitamin C is found in products like citrus, onions or bell peppers, as well as in various berries. Together with other biofactors, zinc and vitamin C help us to have a healthy immune system and to reduce the risk of disease. Find out here, how we can strengthen our immune defense with biofactors.

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Intravenous Vitamin C Alone In Patients With Covid

VERIFY: Does Vitamin C cure the common cold?

A pilot clinical trial in China randomized 56 adults with COVID-19 in the intensive care unit to receive intravenous vitamin C 24 g per day or placebo for 7 days. The study was terminated early due to a reduction in the number of cases of COVID-19 in China. Overall, the study found no differences between the arms in mortality, the duration of mechanical ventilation, or the change in median sequential organ failure assessment scores. The study reported improvements in oxygenation from baseline to Day 7 in the treatment arm that were statistically greater than those observed in the placebo arm .4

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Does Vitamin C Help With Colds

In the 1970s, Linus Pauling, a double Nobel laureate and self-proclaimed champion of vitamin C, promoted megadoses of the vitamin. He recommended the equivalent of 12 to 24 oranges a day to prevent colds and some chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. And on one aspect, he was right: Science does support daily intake of vitamin C because, as a water-soluble vitamin, the body doesnt store it easily. But high doses of vitamin C dont prevent disease.

No studies have conclusively shown vitamin C has any benefit in preventing illness, especially the common cold. It does play an important role in boosting the immune system, but most people in the United States are not vitamin C-deficient, so taking extra vitamin C doesnt necessarily boost the immune system, says Oladimeji Oki, M.D., a family physician at the Montefiore Medical Center and a professor of family and social medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There are some exceptions to this rule, he says. We tend to see vitamin C deficiency in people with little access to food or severe poverty, people who are institutionalized and not eating well, or those who have an aversion to most if not all foods and vegetables, such as some children with autism.

Beyond The Common Cold

Although supplements canât ward off the common cold, vitamin C is still important to your health. It serves essential roles in the human body and supports normal immune function, according to a 2017 report in the journal Nutrients.

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant, meaning it neutralizes free radicals generated by the bodyâs normal metabolism and by exposure to environmental stressors, including ultraviolet radiation and air pollution. Free radicals are charged particles that can damage cells, tissues and genetic material if left unchecked, and thus trigger harmful inflammation.

Besides stopping free radicals, vitamin C helps to activate several key enzymes in the body, which go on to synthesize hormones and build collagen, a tough protein found in skin and connective tissues, according to the 2017 report. These hormones help control the response of the cardiovascular system to severe infections, while collagen fortifies the skin against injury.

Vitamin C may also bolster the fatty membranes in skin and connective tissue, thus protecting organs like the lungs from pathogens, according to cell culture and preclinical studies. When bugs do infiltrate the body, vitamin C helps direct immune cells called neutrophils to the site of infection and defends these cells against free radicals, the 2017 report noted.

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Routine Vitamin C Supplementation Is Not Justified

A 2013 review of 29 trials which involved more than 11,300 people found âno consistent effect of vitamin C ⦠on the duration or severity of colds.â The only place the authors observed some benefits of vitamin C supplementation was in marathon runners, skiers, and soldiers on âsubarctic exerciseâ and even in those small populations, the observed effect was small.

âThe failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified,â the study authors wrote.

And megadoses of vitamin C on the order of 2,000 milligrams or more may come with substantial harms, including raising your risk of painful kidney stones.

If you want to increase your overall vitamin and mineral intake, research backs getting it from fresh fruits and vegetables. This is the best way for your body to process it and ensures you get the most nutrients possible.

Does Vitamin C Help With A Cold Yes But It Won’t Help Prevent It

Does Vitamin C Help Cure The Common Cold?
  • The belief that vitamin C can help you steer clear of a nasty cold has been a myth for decades, but it has since been disproven.
  • Research shows that at least 200 mg per day of vitamin C, while you’re sick, can help you get better sooner and decreases the severity of your symptoms.
  • Though many people turn to supplements to get extra vitamin C, physicians recommend sticking to vitamin C rich foods, like papaya or red bell pepper.
  • This article was reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergies and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.
  • This story is part of Insider’s guide for Treating the Common Cold.

Walk through the aisles of any pharmacy when you’re trying to keep an impending cold at bay and you’ll be met with a slew of options from over-the-counter medications to cough drops, herbal teas to vitamin C powders.

The belief that vitamin C can help you steer clear of a nasty cold has been around for decades but has since been disproven. That said, vitamin C can help with your cold in other ways. Here’s what you need to know.

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The Nutrient Appears To Have Modest Prevention Power

Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock

Vitamin C is often touted as a natural cold remedy. The nutrient is featured in supplements promising to boost the immune system. Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling famously claimed that taking large doses of vitamin C helps thwart a cold. Is there something to these claims? “The data show that vitamin C is only marginally beneficial when it comes to the common cold,” says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Oral Ascorbic Acid Versus Zinc Gluconate Versus Both Agents Versus Standard Of Care

In an open-label clinical trial that was conducted at two sites in the United States, outpatients with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection were randomized to receive either 10 days of oral ascorbic acid 8,000 mg, zinc gluconate 50 mg, both agents, or standard of care.3 The primary end point was the number of days required to reach a 50% reduction in the patients symptom severity score. The study was stopped early by an operational and safety monitoring board due to futility after 40% of the planned 520 participants were enrolled .

Patients who received standard of care achieved a 50% reduction in their symptom severity scores at a mean of 6.7 days compared with 5.5 days for the ascorbic acid arm, 5.9 days for the zinc gluconate arm, and 5.5 days for the arm that received both agents . Nonserious adverse effects occurred more frequently in patients who received supplements than in those who did not 39.5% of patients in the ascorbic acid arm, 18.5% in the zinc gluconate arm, and 32.1% in the arm that received both agents experienced nonserious adverse effects compared with 0% of patients in the standard of care arm . The most common nonserious adverse effects in this study were gastrointestinal events.

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Why Does Vitamin C Help With Allergies

Vitamin C is an immune system booster.

Also known as ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is an essential nutrient the body needs to form blood vessels, muscles, cartilage, and collagen. But because its not a naturally occurring substance, humans need to absorb it, whether via sunlight or ingestion.

One of the reasons why Vitamin C is a powerful force against allergies is that it naturally contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and antihistamines. As an antihistamine, it breaks down the molecular structure of histamine, thus reducing the concentration of histamine in blood circulation. And since histamines are released as a part of the allergic immune response, this can help reduce the severity of allergic symptoms.

There are dozens of studies indicating that Vitamin C may be a potent weapon in the fight against seasonal allergies. They include:

  • A 2018 study discovered that oxidative stress was a key factor in the pathogenesis of allergic diseases and a potential therapeutic target in allergy treatment. Allergic diseases are reportedly associated with reduced plasma levels of ascorbate, which is a key physiological antioxidant. Researchers treated patients with an intravenous high-dose of vitamin C and witnessed a noticeable reduction in allergy-related symptoms.4
  • A 2013 study on people with allergies showed that those patients that had a 7.5g vitamin C infusion had approximately 50% less histamine in their blood.5

Are There Side Effects Or Risks To Consider

Should You Take Vitamin C Supplements For a Cold? | Dr. Ian Smith Answers

Taking an increased amount of vitamin C for a short period of time is generally considered safe.

Vitamin Cs tolerable upper intake level is 2,000 mg per day for adults ages 19 and older.

Emergen-C packets contain 1,000 mg each. This means that you can probably still consume vitamin C through your diet without hitting the max UL.

Consuming 2,000 mg or more may cause:

Emergen-C contains far lower levels of all of the other vitamins and minerals on its ingredient list. No other ingredient comes this close to the respective UL for adults.

Talk to a doctor or other healthcare provider before use if you:

  • take prescription medication

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