Vitamin C – Protecting you from the common cold?




Everyone wants to be one step ahead of the common ‘cold’. Unfortunately it becomes very difficult to avoid when everyone around you is sniffling and sneezing and coughing and… you get the point.

Then you get those individuals who take matters into their own hands, and decide that the best way to not get a cold, is to stock up on vitamin C supplements and get a head start by taking them way before the cold wintery months begin. Some even go to the extent of taking vitamin C daily all year round. Unfortunately it is not as simple as that.

One of the key individuals involved in this field was Linus Pauling. His interest into the cure for the common cold arose when he and his wife used to suffer from severe colds which would interfere with their daily life and work. Pauling was then introduced to a gentleman called Irwin Stone, who had published lots of papers and books on the benefits and uses of ascorbate (vitamin C). Stones research suggested that taking high doses of vitamin C could be a measure to preventing the ‘cold’. Pauling took this information and put it into practice and found that it worked for him and his wife. He then went on further to publish a book on vitamin C and its effects on ‘colds’. This book caught public interest and spurred others to research into the effects of this ‘miracle’ vitamin.

For those of you who are dosing off or about to slip off their chair, take a stroll to the kitchen and grab yourself a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice…that’s the history lesson over.

Now, research has concluded that vitamin C is beneficial in combating a ‘cold’. BUT, taking vitamin C before getting a ‘cold’ has no effect on the incidence. Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration of ‘colds’ by about 23% and its nagging counterparts (i.e. the ‘runny’ nose etc.).

All hope is not lost for those who believe taking vitamin C daily is still a good idea. A recent Japanese study has revealed that a daily intake of 500mg of vitamin C decreased the risk of contracting three or more colds over the five-year period of the study by 66%. Again, these results re-emphasise the point that even though you may decrease the likelihood of catching a ‘cold’, you can’t completely stop the ‘cold’ from catching you…sorry.

On a more positive note, the best advice one can give is to not spend all your money on vitamin C supplements in the hope that they will protect you from catching a ‘cold’, but to spend that money more wisely on a nice warm jacket, scarf and hat and to follow a healthy, balanced diet and do plenty of exercise.

Examples of foods naturally high in vitamin C in descending order are:


Bell peppers, red, raw

Broccoli, steamed

Brussel sprouts, boiled



Kiwi fruit


Not only are the above foods a natural source of Vitamin C, but they are so much more bio-available and still attached to other co-factors promoting better absorption and utilisation. You also won’t encounter the problems associated with the common vitamin C supplements (aka Ascorbic Acid), which is very low on the pH scale – meaning it is very acidic!

Bet you didn’t think orange would be that low down in the list!


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