Taking vitamin C to ward off a cold only helps if you exercise regularly, new research suggests.
Finnish researchers have found necking drinks rich in vitamin C – such as orange juice – makes no difference to couch potatoes. But, in people who work out, vitamin C can halve the risk and even help get rid of the sniffles. Drinking orange juice won’t reduce the risk of a cold – unless you exercise.
Scientists from the University of Helsinki, Finland, embarked on a series of studies involving more than 11,000 people to work out the benefits of Vitamin C, found in many vegetables and fruits, such as oranges, strawberries and kiwis.
They gave groups of volunteers, including Swiss school children, marathon runners, teenage competitive swimmers and Canadian soldiers, a dose of the vitamin and then assessed its impact on their health.
The researchers discovered that it halved the risk of catching a cold among people under short term physical stress, such as exercise.
And male teenage swimmers who caught a cold and were treated with the supplement shook off their illness twice as quickly as boys who did not take the vitamin.
The researchers also found that children appear to be more responsive to the vitamin than adults, with a daily one gram dose slashing the average duration of colds in children by 18 per cent, and in adults by 8 per cent.
Adults, on average, only have two or three colds a year, whereas children suffer, on average, half a dozen annually.
The study’s authors, HarriHemild and Elizabeth Chalker, concluded: “The failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population indicates that routine vitamin C supplementation is not justified, yet vitamin C may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise.
“Regular supplementation trials have shown that vitamin C reduces the duration of colds, but this was not replicated in the few therapeutic trials that have been carried out.”
The research published recently found that men who take vitamin C supplements every day double their risk of suffering from kidney stones.
The excruciating condition is on the rise – and Swedish researchers say a bi-product of the vitamin may be to blame.
Men who took vitamin C supplements at least once a day had the highest risk of kidney stones, according to research published in the journal JAMA Internal medicine.