Can vitamin C help treat a cold?

Vitamin C may help treat a cold by lessening the severity of the symptoms and shortening the duration. The trick is, you have to take vitamin C regularly. If you wait until you feel a cold coming on, it won't help you. To get the benefits of vitamin C, take 1 to 3 grams every day, but no more: Too much C can cause side effects.
While some studies show that zinc lozenges taken every 2 hours during the first day of symptoms are beneficial, most studies are inconclusive. Likewise, no study consistently proves that vitamin C in orange juice, or any other vitamin or herb for that matter, will prevent a cold, or make an existing cold go away faster. Keep in mind that the profit-motivated companies that manufacture and distribute herbs and vitamins are non-FDA approved, and are not required to prove efficacy. They can, and do, say whatever they want to promote their product.
Jill A. Grimes, MD
Family Medicine
Vitamin C helps treat a cold by decreasing the duration of symptoms. Take vitamin C in doses greater than 200 mg per day once you develop cold symptoms.

Continue Learning about Vitamin C

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.