It’s a myth that vitamin C will help cure your cold — here’s what you should do instead – Business Insider

wary of claims made by vitamin C supplements.


The INSIDER Summary:

  • Vitamin C supplements are touted as a way to “boost”
    and “support” the immune system.
  • But evidence shows they won’t help you stave off
  • Taking vitamin C once a cold has already started won’t
    make it go away faster, either. 

Every drugstore is stocked with vitamin C supplements that
claim to “support” your immune system. There’s a common belief
that vitamin C can help you get over a cold faster — or even
that it could help you stave off colds in the first place. 

Too bad those beliefs aren’t supported by science.

Back in 2007, researchers pooled the
 of 29 different
studies looking at the effect of vitamin C on colds. They
found that taking 200 milligrams of vitamin C every single
day — not just on days when you’re sick — could make cold
symptoms go away about one day sooner. But the benefits ended

The daily supplement regimen did not make people less likely
to catch colds, the researchers found. And starting a vitamin C
supplement once a cold has already begun didn’t work either.
The review concluded that it works no better than a placebo.

“After the cold is running its course, [vitamin C] doesn’t have
any effect,” dietitian Andy Bellatti, MS, RD, confirmed

So why do so many people believe that vitamin C will help?

airborne vitamin c

The vitamin-C-for-colds hype originated back in the 1970s, but the concept gained
steam in the late 1990s, when a supplement called
Airborne hit store shelves. The tablets, developed by a
second-grade teacher, contained herbs and
a high dose of vitamin C. 

Early marketing materials claimed that Airborne was a “miracle cold
buster” and that it could “get rid of most colds in one
hour.” The company said its claims were backed up by
a a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

But a 2006 ABC News investigation found
something different. Turns out the lab that conducted the
study was “actually a two-man operation started up just to do the
Airborne study,” ABC News reported. “There was no clinic, no
scientists and no doctors.” (By 2008

company settled a lawsuit and a
complaint from the Federal Trade Commission,
agreeing to pay back as much as $30 million to its customers
over the sketchy claims.)

Airborne is still sold today, and still claims it can “help support your
immune system.” It’s also not alone: Similar supplements
featuring vitamin C have popped up, too.

But the evidence shows taking vitamin C isn’t going to
much your cold very much.

vitamin c supplement

Plus, vitamin C megadoses of 2,000
milligrams might 
raise your risk
of painful kidney stones
, and may give you digestive issues like diarrhea, bloating, and
cramps. You’re better off fighting colds the
old-fashioned way: with fluids and rest.

“If you do have a cold, stay hydrated and get enough rest,”
Bellatti said. “Don’t go to work and pound [vitamin c].”


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