Do Vitamins C And D Actually Stop You From Getting the Flu?
During this time of year, a cold or flu will often make you reaching for the orange juice or head down the vitamins, minerals and supplements aisle of your local pharmacy, in search of a wellness-boosting dose of vitamins C and D, but do these vitamins actually prevent the flu, or weaken its symptoms?
Unfortunately, there’s no clear indication that these vitamins are preventative, or anywhere near as effective as a flu vaccine and good hygiene. The myth first arose in the 70s, when Nobel laureate and biochemist Dr Linus Pauling wrote about how large doses of vitamin C were associated with reducing the frequency and duration of the common cold. Today, there is still very little proof as to its efficacy, but that doesn’t mean that vitamins C and D aren’t essential to your wellbeing.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is an essential antioxidant which helps your body to maintain muscle, bones and blood vessels, and it does seem to decrease flu’s ability to multiply effectively at a cellular level when consumed in very high levels, but taking more than 2,000 mg a day of vitamin C can result in kidney stones, nausea or diarrhoea. You can find this vitamin naturally in many vegetables and fruits, especially citrus fruits, as well as in supplement form, and the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women.
When it comes to vitamin D and your wellness, there is an increasing amount of research demonstrating a link between vitamin D deficiency and multiple health problems such as heart disease, depression, rickets, cognitive impairment and even cancer, but when it comes to the winter sniffles, clinical trials have shown that vitamin D is virtually powerless in the fight against cold and flu in adults with healthy levels, though it is thought to play an important role in immune function.
You can get your source of vitamin D from sunlight, but, as this is Britain, you can also get your recommended dose from supplements, as well as some foods like fish, eggs and dairy products. Just remember that overloading on any vitamin can cause more harm than good, so do not exceed the recommended intake of vitamins C or D unless otherwise instructed by a doctor.