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Myth: Vitamin C boosts your immune system

TRUTH: I’m sorry, I’m probably ruining the rituals you have when you feel the cold coming on, but this one just doesn’t seem to have a fighting chance.  Vitamin C is not shown to protect you if you contract a cold virus. If you’re deficient in vitamin C, then yes, it would definitely help; however most of us get plenty of it. Any extra, and it’ll go straight through you.

Though Vitamin C has been shown to help shorten the duration of a cold, it’s only by about half a day (and even that isn’t supported by all scientific evidence).   In recent news, zinc may help fight the common cold, but don’t run out and eat all the zinc you can find – too much and you’ll worsen you’re immune system.  Remember, everything in moderation.

BOTTOM LINE: Get plenty of vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables and don’t focus too much on vitamin C.  But diet (including alcohol consumption) does play a role in your immune system’s health so choose foods wisely to keep yourself healthy year round.


  1. Harvard Health Online:
  2. WebMD: Immune System Myths and Truths:

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2 Comments to "Myth: Vitamin C boosts your immune system"

  1. I think this’s spot on what comes to ordinary people. But, if you are a high performing athlete or preparing for a marathon, you might want to take vitamin C during those the last couple weeks. At least a meta-analysis by Douglas et al. (2007) suggests so: “But evidence suggests that it could be justified in people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise or cold environments.”

    • Kate Gardner says:

      Absolutely! The ADA recommends that those who participate in prolonged, strenuous exericise should cosume between 100 and 1,000 mg of vitamin C daily. Thanks for your feedback.

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