woman sick with a cold or the flu, recover from the flu

Every winter, millions of people suffer with congestion, coughs, fever and other symptoms of the common cold. They may lose days from work. (If they don’t take time off, they spread the virus causing the cold to many other individuals.) But is there a way to prevent colds? One reader thinks he has found one.

Q. My wife and I have been taking extra vitamin C after each meal for more than a dozen years. Despite being around people with colds, we have had none. We’ve had no side effects from the vitamin C.

Does Vitamin C Prevent Colds?

A. Health professionals generally dismiss vitamin C to prevent colds. A review of 29 trials of vitamin C for colds concluded that vitamin C doesn’t seem to prevent colds for most people but it consistently reduces their duration and severity (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Jan. 31, 2013). Perhaps that is because vitamin C can increase the activity of the immune system (Journal of Biological Regulators and Homeostatic Agents, Apr-June, 2013).

More than 200 different viruses can cause cold symptoms, so we’re not surprised that vitamin C might not work against all of them. Along with vitamin C, zinc also enhances immunity and can help reduce the duration of cold symptoms (Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism, 2006). Two preliminary studies showed that supplementation with 1000 mg vitamin C and 10 mg zinc reduced the duration of runny nose significantly more than placebo (Journal of International Medical Research, 2012).

Other Natural Treatments for Colds:

Analysis of 34 clinical trials show that the Chinese herb Andrographis paniculata and a preparation of ivy, primrose and thyme are far better than placebo for controlling coughs from colds (Forschende Komplementarmedizin, online Dec. 14, 2015).  You’ll find a variety of other natural cold fighters in our Guide to Colds, Coughs and the Flu.

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  1. CB

    Vitamin C is used daily in this three generation household including two elementary school age children. Colds are very rare. I take 500 mg ester C three times a day, more if symptoms appear. They are short lived.

  2. Anne
    Winston-Salem, NC

    I take 500 mg. of vitamin C almost every day and I use a Neti pot to flush out my sinus cavities with warm salt water every day. In the past 15 years I have had about two colds total.

  3. Paul

    Taking extra C , prevents and shortens all my colds!

  4. Grace Pennington
    North Carolina

    I take 500 mg Vitamin C daily and have not had a cold in probably 12 – 15 years. Prior to starting this regimine I was having one to two colds a year. My colds were always so severe I was willing to try anything. This definitely works for me. I have even tested this by stopping the vitamin for a few days and always end up started having cold symptoms only to have them stop once I start back taking Vitamin C, usually with 2 or 3 doses a day. Thank goodness for Vitamin C.

  5. joy

    3000 I.U. of Vitamin C at the first sign of a cold, knocks most of it out in one day. It doesn’t help the nagging cough I usually get but it beats the heck out of runny nose, sneezing and congestion.

  6. Jerryw
    So Fla

    I take 1000mg of vitamin C daily along with 8 oz of orange juice. I have not had a cold or flu in eight plus years. I have never had a flu shot either, which some would say is ridiculous considering my age being in my 70’s. Years ago, I usually had a cold or flu every year, which comes with living in So. Fla and the annual tourist visits.

  7. Scott

    I have had profuse sweating for more than 2 years. I use an interaction drug checker and found one, bupropion, can cause this if toxic. Showing my MD I went off this drug. Unfortunately it helped slightly, while walking briskly for four blocks I again had profuse sweating. Any natural remedies for sweating?

  8. cpmt

    When I was young in my grandfather country house he had many fruit trees some of them were pormgranate and an acerolla tree. We use to spend the summers at his house eating fruits from all these tress specially from pomegranate and ”acerolla” (dont’ know the English name) trees. NEITHER I NOR MY BROTHERS GO SICK EVER…. at the school other children got sick, but we never did. Later I found out that both of these trees mentioned were very high in vitamin C. blood cancer in children was almost unknown. Today we have so many children with serious health problems, it is unconcibable to understand why.

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