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Do you need more vitamin C this time of year? - Dietetic Directions - Dietitian and Nutritionist in Kitchener/Waterloo
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Do you need more vitamin C this time of year?

Do You Need More Vitamin C This TIme Of Year

Do you need more vitamin C this time of year?

With the cold weather already upon us, many are stocking up on oranges and vitamin C supplements in hopes of warding off the common cold. Are you one of these people taking extra vitamin C this time of year?

More than likely, you have heard that taking vitamin C is beneficial in decreasing liklihood of getting sick.  This has been the subject of tremendous controversy for more than 50 years!  Today, let’s demystify if vitamin C (aka ascorbic acid) is helpful in ‘warding off’ the common cold.  In addition, we will quantify how much we need and how much is too much.
Fact or myth: Vitamin C wards off colds? Click To Tweet

Pills supplements

Functions of vitamin C:

• Assists in growth, maintenance and repair of tendons, ligaments, blood vessels, cartilage, bone and teeth
• Enhances iron absorption (Tip: consume citrus at the same time as iron rich foods)
• Antioxidant quality helps prevent damage from free radicals that cause aging and diseases like cancer

Does vitamin C ward off the Common Cold?

The highest quality studies (placebo or vitamin C) have concluded that regular supplemental intake of vitamin C has no effect on decreasing the occurrence of the common cold in the general population (Cochrane Review, 2010).  However, for reasons not well understood, vitamin C appears to significantly decrease the likelihood of getting sick among endurance athletes (marathon runners and skiers).  Interesting!>Before, you toss your oranges to the side because you are not an endurance athelete, you should know that vitamin C does show a consistent (yet modest) reduction in the duration and severity of cold symptoms.  This means you might start feeling better one day earlier!  This is reason enough (for me) to ensure my clients are meeting their dietary vitamin C needs.

How much should I be consuming?

Adult Male (19+): 90 mg/day
Adult Women (19+): 75 mg/day
If you are a smoker or are around secondhand smoke you should increase your vitamin C an additional 35 mg per day.

How much vitamin C should I be consuming? Click To Tweet

What does this look like?

  • Kiwi or Orange (70mg 1 whole)
  • Pineapple or Strawberries (50mg per 1/2 cup)
  • Clementine (40mg per fruit)
  • Red or pink grapefruit (40mg per 1/2)
  • Broccoli (35 mg per 1/2 cup)
  • Red peppers (120 mg per ½ cup)

fruits heart shaped bowl

Supplement or Food?

The best way to get vitamin C is through your diet!  Always think ‘food first’.  By choosing whole foods as a dietary source of vitamin C, you will benefit not only from the delicious enjoyment of eating but you will also benefit from all the other nutrients these foods contain.

How much is too Much?

There is such a thing as TOO MUCH vitamin C. Consuming more than 2,000 mg/day is not recommended because it can lead to an upset stomach and diarrhea. I will consistently encourage meeting your dietary needs through diet opposed to a pill.

Bottom Line:

There is no evidence that taking vitamin C supplement will prevent colds.  However, there is research to suggest that regular vitamin C intake (think whole fruit sources) leads to shorter or milder cold symptoms.  Last, remember that taking vitamin C after you get the cold is likely not going to helpful.  Happy clementine season!