The common cold can leave you sniffling, sneezing, and aching for a week or longer. You might be tempted to try anything just to feel better sooner, but Consumer Reports says think twice before loading up on vitamin C supplements. Chances are, you’re already too late!
While there is some evidence that taking a daily dose of vitamin C on a regular basis when you’re healthy might shorten your cold by a day or so, taking it once you’re sick really won’t help. And taking vitamin C supplements won’t prevent a cold in the first place, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Taking high doses of vitamin C can also cause other health problems. For example, studies have shown that men who take excessive amounts are twice as likely to develop kidney stones. Vitamin C supplements may also interact or interfere with certain kinds of treatments and drugs, according to the NIH. That includes chemotherapy and heart medication. And consuming more than 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day can cause an upset stomach and painful cramps.
In general, the NIH recommends 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams per day for women to maintain good health. That’s about the equivalent in a single orange.
The best way to get the vitamin C is the old fashioned way, from fruits and vegetables. Some of the best foods for vitamin C include red and green peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, and broccoli.
As for that cold, forget the quick fix. If you need some relief from your symptoms, choose over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever, or single-ingredient decongestants.
To help your cough, try throat lozenges or honey. And get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and if you’d like, pick up a good humidifier.
If you do decide to take a dietary supplement, Consumer Reports says it is best to always check with your doctor first.