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Vitamin C Shortens Length and Severity of Common Cold

As antibiotics are useless for treating the common cold, many people use vitamin C to try to treat and prevent colds. A recent study provides scientific backing to this practice. It found that taking vitamin C supplements reduces the length of colds in adults by 8% and in children by 18%.

The researchers analyzed 29 clinical trials to determine vitamin C’s effect on the common cold. They found that it reduced the severity of symptoms as well as the duration of colds.

Vitamin C, however, did not have an effect on the likelihood of catching a cold, except for in individuals under high, short-term physical stress, such as marathon runners, skiers and soldiers. For those individuals, vitamin C reduced the probability of coming down with a cold by 50%.

The researchers concluded that vitamin C is most beneficial in fighting the symptoms of a cold, rather than in preventing one. They recommend that more therapeutic research be undertaken to determine the exact effect of vitamin C on the common cold.

This study was conducted by researchers at the University of Helsinki, Finland. It was published online on January 31, 2013 in the Cochrane Library.

Vitamin C is an essential nutrient that has been linked to numerous other health benefits including heart health, brain health, eye health and improved mood. It can be found in high levels in citrus fruits and dark leafy greens such as cantaloupe, oranges, kiwis, papaya, broccoli and kale.

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