Do You Have Cold Symptoms? Don’t Reach For Vitamin C

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Our colleagues down the hall at Consumer Reports, armed with actual facts, are out to debunk everything that I do when I think I might be coming down with a cold. First, they explained why taking zinc supplements isn’t a good idea, and now they’ve pointed out that taking Vitamin C supplements isn’t all that helpful either. If they debunk lengthy naps next, my cold-coping strategies are all eliminated.

It’s not that taking extra Vitamin C once you start sniffling is bad for you, exactly. It’s just that it doesn’t really do any good. While some studies do show that zinc shortens colds a little bit, Consumer Reports’ medical adviser says that Vitamin C hasn’t been shown to shorten your cold…if you weren’t already taking a supplement. It does help some if you were taking the supplement regularly before you were exposed to the cold virus, which means that taking supplements once you’re already experiencing cold symptoms doesn’t do any good. Also, the people in the study whose colds were milder if they were already taking Vitamin C were exerting themselves heavily in the outdoors during the winter.

Excess Vitamin C is just eliminated in your urine, and an “excess” amount is more than one might get by eating a cup of fresh fruit. In addition to expensive pee, one long-term study showed that taking Vitamin C regularly makes someone twice as likely to have kidney stones.

5 reasons to skip taking vitamin C for colds [Consumer Reports]

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