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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Taking vitamin C for your cold? For it to work, you have to take enough and at the right time by Dr. Shallenberger

Taking vitamin C for your cold? For it to work, you have to take enough and at the right time

Volume 14 | Issue 55
May 10, 2017
You probably know that taking vitamin C will help you fight off a cold. But do you know when to take it — and how much to take?

There are plenty of studies showing that vitamin C will help your cold, at least a little. But most of these studies use fairly small doses of the vitamin — about 1 g per day. While studies that use more seem to produce better results, it's hard to compare one study to another since there can be so much variation in the common cold virus and exposure levels among studies.

Researchers at the University of Helsinki in Finland decided to conduct a single study comparing much larger doses of vitamin C, and their results will likely change how you respond to that first telltale sneeze.

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First, the researchers compared three groups. One group received 3 g per day of vitamin C, another received 6 g per day, and the other group received a placebo. Compared to the placebo group, the lucky participants in the 6 g group had colds that were 17% shorter. These results were twice as good as those in the 3 g group. The researchers then tried again, giving one group 4 g per day and another 8 g per day. However, this time they administered the vitamin or placebo only on the first day of the cold. Nevertheless, the 8 g group had 19% shorter colds than the placebo group, and their results were still twice as good as those of the 4 g group.

These results indicate that the benefits of taking vitamin C do seem to be dose-dependent. In fact, because the results were so linear, the lead researcher, Dr. Harri Hemilä, believes that taking doses up to 15 g per day would be even more beneficial, though such a high dose has yet to be tested in a randomized trial. Dr. Hemilä suggests that "given the consistent effect of vitamin C on the duration of colds and its safety and low cost, it would be worthwhile for individual common cold patients to test whether therapeutic 8 g per day vitamin C is beneficial for them. Self-dosing of vitamin C must be started as soon as possible after the onset of common cold symptoms to be most effective."

I agree with Dr. Hemilä. If you wait for a cold to really get its claws in you before you try to do anything about it, you'll likely just have to wait it out. But if you attack it with plenty of vitamin C before it really attacks you, you'll probably get an earlier victory.
Yours for better health,
Frank Shallenberger, MD

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