You’ve probably heard it a zillion times: take some vitamin C if you feel a cold coming on, and chase away illness with a gallon of orange juice. Even though we know there’s no cure for the common cold, many of us still believe in the sweet, orange elixir and don’t even question what the makers of the stuff guarantee: an 8 oz. glass delivers “100% of the vitamin C” needed to “maintain a healthy immune system.”
Science-ish looked at high-quality studies on the subject of vitamin C and sickness, starting with this recent Cochrane systematic review (the highest form of evidence) on the supplement for prevention and treatment of the common cold. The lead author, Dr. Harri Hemilä, of the department of public health at the University of Helsinki, told Science-ish he has spent much of his career exploring this very question—with some interesting results.
…there is good evidence it has benefits for one specific group of people: those who undertake really intense physical activity such as marathon runners. For them, vitamin C supplementation decreases the incidence of colds by half. These findings, though, do not hold up for ordinary people, Dr. Hemilä emphasized.
All is not lost – vitamin C is good for:
- free radical protection
- collagen production
- brain health