Did you have a lot of colds as a child? If youâre one of the millions that did, then you probably remember being told to get lots of vitamin C.
Â 117 people get colds every minute in the U.S.
Â The cold virus is a condition that can leave you with a stuffed up nose, cough, sore throat, and tired, aching muscles.
Â The symptoms can last for days or even weeks, sometimes reoccurring with annoying tenacity.
Â Itâs 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.
Â 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.
Â 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.
Â Immunity boosting substances called cytokines were increased. Cytokines are known for their virus-fighting abilities.
Â However, the researchers found that the immune-system boosting effects of vitamin C may be short-lived.
Â Two weeks after the last dose of vitamin C was given, the level of cytokines in the patients returned to normal.
Â 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.
Â 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.
Â One gram of vitamin C a day is the equivalent of about five glasses of orange juice a day.
Â 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 âyou may not have to take it every day,” she says.