Did you have a lot of colds as a child? If you’re one of the millions that did, then you probably remember being told to get lots of vitamin C.
117 people get colds every minute in the U.S.
The cold virus is a condition that can leave you with a stuffed up nose, cough, sore throat, and tired, aching muscles.
The symptoms can last for days or even weeks, sometimes reoccurring with annoying tenacity.
It’s good news then that a recent study at the University of Texas Health Science Center reports that vitamin C really does boost your immune system.
Conducted by Susan Ritter and colleagues, the study followed 12 healthy patients over the course of 2 weeks. Each one was given a gram of vitamin C a day.
The research team isolated the immune system cells from blood samples taken from the participants. Four participants were then separated into a smaller group. In two of these four patients, the response to vitamin C happened within five hours of taking it.
Immunity boosting substances called cytokines were increased. Cytokines are known for their virus-fighting abilities.
However, the researchers found that the immune-system boosting effects of vitamin C may be short-lived.
Two weeks after the last dose of vitamin C was given, the level of cytokines in the patients returned to normal.
Ritter pointed out that many studies of vitamin C have used several grams of the vitamin C a day when measuring its effect on the common cold.
But that much vitamin C can be potentially toxic. This study used a much lower amount and no toxic side effects were seen in the participants.
One gram of vitamin C a day is the equivalent of about five glasses of orange juice a day.
According to Ritter, to ward off a cold you might have to take vitamin C at the first sign of a cold. Taking a vitamin C tablet when you first experience symptoms can boost your immune system quickly enough that “you may not have to take it every day,” she says.