Don’t take vitamin C when you have a cold, experts say — Best Life
Despite popular wisdom to the contrary, experts say there is unfortunately no cure for the common cold. Sipping chicken soup or gargling salt water can feel comforting, but these common suggestions unfortunately fall far short of stopping a true viral illness. Now, experts warn, the same goes for another widely recommended “cure” that often enjoys greater credibility, one that comes in the form of a popular supplement. Read on to find out which supplement has been debunked as a cold remedy and why taking it could actually be dangerous to your health.
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First, let’s get one thing straight: supplements are, by definition, not intended to treat any disease or illness. If a supplement is labeled or marketed to suggest it is, it must be classified as a drug and meet a more stringent set of regulatory standards, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) explains.
Although some supplements do seem to have tangible health benefits, reframing how we view them — as tools to fill nutritional gaps, rather than medical treatments — may provide a more realistic set of expectations for these products. It is also important to know that some supplements, although not drugs, can still have side effects, especially if taken in excess.
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One of the most common recommendations for fighting the common cold is to take a vitamin C supplement, which many people believe can boost the immune system and fight cold symptoms. However, extensive research has shown that vitamin C supplements do little to prevent or cure a cold. In fact, many people suffer side effects from taking too much vitamin C.
The New York Times recently explained the origin story of this particular medical “myth” in a supplement use quiz. “The myth that vitamin C helps alleviate cold symptoms dates back to Linus Pauling, a famous American physicist who studied chemical bonds and won two Nobel Prizes. But his later obsession with vitamin C was based more on his own experimentation than any mainstream research. In his 1970 book, Vitamin C and the common cold, he recommended taking more than 30 times the recommended daily dose of the vitamin to increase energy and ward off colds. But there is little evidence to back up his advice.” The New York Times reports.
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Vitamin C recommended in such excessive amounts is particularly troubling given that it can cause potentially serious side effects. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended daily dose amount of vitamin C is “90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women,” but most vitamin C supplements on the market are sold in 1,000 milligram doses.
Ingestion of more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily can cause kidney stones, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heartburn, stomach cramps, fatigue, headache , skin redness, etc., adds the Mayo Clinic. It’s important to remember that you also get vitamin C from your diet, which means the amount you ingest through a supplement adds to the amount you ingest through food. This can cause some people to have more than the total recommended amount of this vitamin in their system without realizing it.
The New York Times just suggests relying on vitamin C-rich foods for your total recommended amount. “Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, but most people get enough of it from their diet,” the journal reports.
Some foods high in vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, peppers, potatoes, cabbage, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, spinach, and broccoli. Talk to a doctor or nutritionist if you’re not sure you’re getting enough vitamin C in your diet.