Do you really need to take vitamin C to fight a cold?

In addition to the prevention and treatment of scurvy, other properties attributed to vitamin C is fighting fatigue, improving immune defense, reducing the duration of colds. And the latter is well preserved by the general public, because as December approaches, advices to take the daily dose of vitamins in the form of lemon juice or food supplements are added. Therefore, for some prevention of vitamin C, it is necessary to take it in the form of food supplements every winter in the fight against winter diseases. However, according to Inserm and its published survey in the detox section of your channels, Taking dietary supplements containing vitamin C is not a good reflex to expect to effectively protect against the common cold. However, the organization primarily points out that vitamin C has many functions in the body, it is even a scientifically proven fact.

This allows for the consolidation of collagen fibers that form the connective tissue that supports cells and thus structures other tissues, as ANSES* reminds us. It is also involved in the synthesis of molecules involved in the nervous transmission system (such as norepinephrine) and plays a protective role in tissues by trapping oxidizing substances. Finally, it facilitates the absorption of non-heme iron (found in plant-based foods such as legumes or nuts). And since our bodies can’t synthesize it, we have to get it from food: ANSES recommends an average of 110 mg per day for an adult, based on the Dietary Reference Intake (RDN) (120). mg per day for pregnant women and 170 mg per day for breastfeeding women). Does this mean that exceeding the recommended doses and taking even more vitamin Cwould we increase its beneficial effects, especially to protect ourselves from the viruses responsible for the inevitable winter cold or runny nose?

Be careful when choosing food supplements

The answer is simply no, according to Inserm, given that “ many studies have looked at this question, and none of them have been able to clearly demonstrate a significant positive effect of high-dose vitamin C on the frequency, duration, or severity of colds. “For its experts, the popular saying that ‘an untreated cold lasts 7 days, a cured one – a week’ seems to be correct. An article on this topic has been published In the Cochrane Platform and combining several scientific studies in this area leads to the same conclusion. Just so you know that” the failure of vitamin C supplementation to reduce the incidence of colds in the general population suggests that routine vitamin C supplementation is not warranted. However, the journal reports that only a few therapeutic trials have been conducted, and none of them studied children, even though the preventive effect of vitamin C was greater in the latter.

Also discover:10 Benefits of Vitamin C for Your Body

Based on his findings, further research is also needed to determine the potential therapeutic role of vitamin C. i.e. use immediately after symptoms appear. » What about vitamin C supplements? They are used frequently in France because, according to Inserm, almost 30% of adults in France take supplements, knowing that vitamin C is one of the three most important nutrients during pregnancy, along with magnesium and vitamin B6. supplements. The medical journal Vidal urges you to choose them carefully because they usually contain ascorbic acid or ascorbate: ascorbate-based products are less acidic and therefore less aggressive to the stomach. Some supplements also contain it flavonoids should increase absorption of vitamin C. But the magazine believes it This effect has never been proven and some flavonoids in grapefruit can interact with medications: they should be avoided. »

Take even more vitamin C to fight a cold more effectively?

In addition, the review reminds that in 2012 European health authorities (EFSA, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Commission) have decided on certain health claims for foods and food supplements containing vitamin C (ascorbic acid). After examining the scientific data, they concluded that these products may not be particularly necessary for maintaining vitality and relieving irritation of the throat or upper respiratory tract. Regarding the effectiveness of vitamin C in reducing the duration of the common cold, the journal Vidal also notes that “ many studies have addressed this topic. The results seem to show a small effect, more noticeable in children and people who consume little fruit and vegetables. Because this is actually the main recommendation to follow: the first reflex is simply to prioritize a varied and balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables every day.

According to the review, this good habit would be enough, “To meet our vitamin C needs.” The same observation is made by Inserm, which recommends consuming fruits and vegetables instead of taking food supplements. high in vitamin C. Who are they? The list is on the Ciqual** table operated by ANSES. These are fruits such as acerola cherry, guava, black currants, citrus fruits, as well as parsley and pepper. But be careful, this vitamin is partially destroyed during cooking, so it is recommended to consume raw or frozen fruits and vegetables. In conclusion, it does not make sense to take large doses of vitamin C above the recommended levels in the fight against the common cold. especially due to overconsumption can cause digestive problems and nausea. In conclusion, Inserm urges caution against excessive use of dietary supplements. And his last observation relates to the fact “ that there is no guarantee that nutrients will retain their beneficial effects when extracted from their matrix, nor that they will have the same effect on everyone, such as smokers or non-smokers, sick or healthy people. »

*National Food, Environmental, and Occupational Health Safety Agency

**Reference database on the nutritional composition of foods commonly consumed in France

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