You may have heard it’s a good idea to drink orange juice or take vitamin c tablets if you are fighting a cold. The truth is that vitamin c does not effectively alleviate cold and flu symptoms. Vitamin C was first glorified in the 70’s and just kinda caught on. It was loosely backed and science was not as up to date as it is now. It was more of a placebo effect than anything else. News and magazines non-scientific credibility would push this, and society would eat this up. Anecdotal data would support its effectiveness as people would come out and say that vitamin C helped them fight a cold.

Of course this sparks more scientific interest and scientists around the world started testing this. We now have significant as opposed to loose scientific data on vitamin C. The conclusion, little to no effect. Testing on colds is done using 3 variables. Frequency, duration and severity of a cold is typically what will be tested. In the case of vitamin C for a cold they found that vitamin c(200mg daily -> 65mg – 90mg is recommended daily intake) helped to decrease the duration of a cold by 8%. To add to this the study was done with two groups, a daily group and a fighting group. The daily group would take vitamin c daily. The fighting group would take vitamin c after the cold had already started. To be even more dissapointing, the group that took vitamin c after the cold had started did not see any change in duration or severity. It was the group that was taking it daily(prior to the cold and during) that saw a minimal decrease in the duration of the cold. Overall vitamin c was found to be ineffective at ‘fighting’ a cold, but it does do something extra.

Vitamin c as a nutrient helps form collagen. It also is involved with the formation of bones, teeth, muscle and blood vessels. It also functions as a ‘carrier’ of iron helping to intake iron into the body. By itself it is a useful nutrient outside of trying to fight a cold. Nowadays you will find vitamin c in a lot of different drinks if you check the nutritional facts. It is the type of nutrient that is like sodium. We need it for bodily functions, however it’s found in the most common pieces of food and drink, so we don’t need to watch our intake. There is also an upper limit just like sodium, there is such thing as too much. In the case of sodium you risk high blood pressure/hypertension. With vitamin C it is relatively harmless, you may experience diarrhea or nausea. Vitamin c cannot be stored for later in the body and is a water soluble vitamin, more likely than not you will end up peeing it out. It simply just ends up in the toilet, in the case of supplementation it ends up as ‘expensive piss’. 2000mg is the recommended upper limit for vitamin c.

The effective way to fight a cold is about as obvious as youd think. Natural defences are the best to fight a cold. What exactly does this include? Well the body primarily needs calories(food, any food that is protein, carbohydrate or fat), nutrients(vitamins and minerals) and water. No one of these are more important than the next. The most important need is the one you are currently lacking. To make life easy if you have a cold make it a focus to do all of these. The only other thing needed for a cold is sleep, that is the bodys general recovery mode. The calories are necessary for creating cellular energy for the body to do EVERYTHING, including your immune system and its ability to do its work. The nutrients are required along with energy. Different nutrients are used for different functions of the body. Instead of highlighting the specific nutrient necessary just ingest any and all. In the form of a multivitamin that comes with all the necessary minerals makes life easy. Coming from food may require a little bit of homework, but even with this approach you can simply just add as much variety of foods to your plate as possible, a little bit of everything.

Water is simple, just drink it, the daily recommendation is 8 glasses of water(8 oz each – 2 litres total). The National Academics of Science, Engineering and Medacine recommends a much higher amount. 3.7L for men and 2.7L for women, however they do specify to measure based on thirst. Fundamentally the body requires water for many functions and the body is 60% water. Muscle is a major user of water in the body, some other uses include playing a part in digestion, sweating and thermal functions and every cell in the body needs water for its formation. So fundamentally you cannot put a single number to someones water intake as general height, weight, gender, genetics, disease, physiology(like being really muscular), diuretics(coffee, tea and alcohol), and physical activity(exercise or work) can change everything.