If you’re suffering from a bad case of the sniffles, one of the most common things to hear is that you need to take some vitamin C.
That could mean through supplements, or munching down on an orange come lunch time.
But the whole idea that vitamin C cures colds is a myth.
It started back in the 1970s after noted Nobel Prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling discovered the supposedly miraculous benefits of the vitamin and published a book on the subject.
The resulting tome, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, was a huge hit and Pauling continued to preach about the benefits of it until his death in 1994.
But, according Sara Chodosh writing for Popular Science , there’s actually no real clinical evidence that quaffing Tropicana will rid you of a runny nose and sore throat.
“Some studies have found evidence that regular usage might shorten the duration of your cold , but not when taken after the onset of the cold,” she writes in an excellent article discussing the subject.
“Others have found associations with daily dosage and lower risk of cardiovascular diseases, though still more have shown no relationship whatsoever.”
What’s more, the water-soluble vitamin will be filtered out by your body if you try and up your dosage. The most you’re going to get from a daily vitamin supplement fix is effervescent urine.
Of course, if you’re suffering from a genuine vitamin deficiency then turning to supplements isn’t a bad thing at all. But for the majority of us, it just won’t have any affect.
Not surprisingly, there’s a big industry built up around vitamin supplements.
Recent figures from consumer trends company Mintel show almost half of the UK population take a supplement of some sort every day, at an annual cost of £400million.
It would probably be far tastier, and more beneficial to swap the handful of tablets each morning for just eating an extra orange once in a while.