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Vitamin C and common cold


Ever since Nobel laureate Linus Pauling popularized the theory that vitamin C can help in the prevention and treatment of common cold in the 1970s, this was a hot topic of discussion and debate in the decades that followed. Because of his formidable stature in the scientific community, many believed and still believe that whatever Linus Pauling said is Gospel Truth. As it turned out, Pauling’s claims could not be substantiated in the numerous studies that researchers undertook even up until the turn of the millennium. But the matter does not appear to have been fully settled one way or another.


Granted that common cold is a viral disease and cannot be treated with antibiotics but only through boosting body immunity, and given the fact that vitamin C is essentially free of side effects and is also affordable by many, the use of vitamin C in managing cold has remained unabated. And there is good reason to believe that regular vitamin C supplements have several benefits, including reduced cold severity and reduced cold duration, making it less severe.


Reduced cold duration: Supplements decreased recovery time by 8% in adults and 14% in children, on average. A supplemental dose of 1–2 grams was enough to shorten the duration of a cold by 18% in children, on average. Vitamin C appears to have even stronger effects in people who are under intense physical stress. In marathon runners and skiers, vitamin C almost halved the duration of the common cold.


Quite apart from the controversies that continue to rage in the scientific community that seeks absolutely fool proof evidence of benefit, for most people in the general population, vitamin C does have a role to play in the overall management of the commonest yet cumbersome malady that continues to bug humanity in the new millennium.


(www.healthline.com accessed 16 February 2019)

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