Especially during cold and flu season, I’m commonly asked this question in the pharmacy.
Yes, vitamin C can actually help fight a cold — but the effects are marginal. In most studies, it helped people get better one to two days sooner than if they hadn’t taken it. Vitamin C is generally safe when taken in doses up to 2000 mg daily, but any higher amount than that can increase the risk of stomach upset and diarrhea.
My go-to vitamin C product is Airborne.
Airborne not only has a good amount of vitamin C, but it has other ingredients that have data showing they can help fight the cold symptoms with vitamin C (e.g. echinacea and zinc).
Some other good sources include Nature Made’s Vitamin C (1000 mg), or if you would prefer a more natural or organic way of getting vitamin C, then have at least two to three servings of oranges, mangos, or pineapples each day.
Chopped red pepper or broccoli are also said to be vitamin C-rich foods.
Vitamin C is important to support normal growth and development. It also helps the body absorb iron. Because your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, it’s important to include it in your diet.
Mohamed A. Jalloh, Pharm.D., is an assistant professor in the clinical sciences department at Touro University California College of Pharmacy, and an ambulatory clinical pharmacist at OLE Health in Napa, California.