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Seeking Cold Relief

Woman with a cold

Cold and flu season are upon us and there is no real escape at this point. You can hear the sniffles and coughs at work and when out and about. It can be a particularly unnerving thing for those of us who cherish our good health and want to ensure that we can make the most of the upcoming holiday season. After all, what fun is a holiday meal if you can’t even taste what you’re eating and spend half the time coughing? There are a lot of remedies that we try to help ensure our health holds out in the face of various potential health issues during the holidays. One that a lot of people swear by is reaching for vitamin C the moment they catch a tickle in their throat or suspect they’re sniffling from a little bit more than the cool wind. Do quick, large doses of vitamin C really do anything for your health though?

Vitamin C and Health
Understanding why we constantly reach for vitamin C when we get sick involves taking a brief step back in time. At one point, there are a few studies that had just begun to uncover the potential links between vitamin C’s roles in the body and various positive health benefits. The links were clear, but the extent of the potential benefits were little more than conjecture. It led to some experts promoting vitamin C beyond its actual capabilities. Science’s understanding of vitamin C has improved drastically since then and it is clear that we need it as part of a healthy diet, but there is nothing instantaneous about the vitamin.

A Little Bit of Hope
It is important to distinguish here that megadosing when you start to get sick does nothing, but you do need vitamin C and it is connected to helping keep you healthy. There is plenty of evidence to suggest that vitamin C is connected to your ability to fight off illness. The catch is that you need to already be getting enough vitamin C when you start to get ill. Vitamin C in your diet is a preventive measure as opposed to a direct response to illness. Megadosing when you think you’re getting sick is a “too little, too late” situation where maybe the vitamin C will help you avoid the next illness, but you’re going to need to fight things off on your own this time. Most people tend to reach for supplements for their vitamin C dosing when they’re getting sick. This isn’t necessarily the best idea. Let’s take a quick look at supplementation to understand why.

Supplements and Health
Vitamin supplements are a comparatively unregulated area of the drug industry. This isn’t really confidence building for the potential benefits of their various product.  Vitamin C supplements are considered comparatively reliable in the industry, but are still vitamin supplements with all the associated risks outlined above. Additionally, you don’t want to megadose on vitamins as too much of anything can hurt your body.

Vitamin C does have known links to your overall health and seems to play a role in helping you stay healthy. You need to be eating it as part of a balanced diet to get these benefits though. A reliable dose in your diet from eating well will help keep your body ready to kick out illness. Megadosing on vitamin C supplements the moment you think you’re getting sick isn’t going to help though. In fact, the supplements may do nothing if you get an unreliable brand. So remember that eating a healthy diet will ultimately be what helps keep you healthy rather than an emergency response of too much of a potentially good thing.

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