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Vitamin C & The Common Cold

As winter steadily approaches, our noses tend to drip a little more and the trusty Vitamin C tablets come back out of the kitchen cabinet. But how useful is vitamin C when it comes to the common cold, and is it worth its hefty price?

Vitamin C plays a role as an antioxidant, assists in wound healing, increases iron absorption (when both are consumed at the same time), is involved in keeping our immune systems in check, and it may help with blood glucose control in Type 2 Diabetics. So it’s pretty important! Our bodies can’t make vitamin C – which makes it even more essential that we either eat foods high in Vitamin C or choose a supplement.

The NZ recommended daily intake of Vitamin C is 45mg per day, those that smoke and people with diabetes have higher requirements. However this is enough to prevent deficiencies – we can definitely have more! – and this is recommended to reduce the risk of chronic diseases.

The Evidence… Whether Vitamin C helps fight off the common cold or not has been of much debate for many years. Vitamin C may reduce your time spent sick – but research isn’t very clear on this. One major Meta-Analysis using 11,300 participants found that 200mg of Vitamin C per day may reduce your time spent sick by 8% – which isn’t much in the scheme of things. Research is even more unclear on whether Vitamin C prevents the common cold, or reduces your symptoms, with most studies finding nothing significant. Research has shown that those who would benefit the most from Vitamin C supplements for the common cold are people who are Vitamin C deficient, or those that do extreme amounts of exercise (elite athletes and such) – so it is important to keep your levels topped up!

Vitamin C & Food… We absorb Vitamin C supplements in the same way that we absorb Vitamin C from our food. Which is fantastic news! This means we can eat fruits and vegetables high in Vitamin C, gain some fibre and a few other goodies at a much cheaper price than supplements… now that really is bang for your buck. To get your recommended daily intake, add one of these fruits or veg into your daily routine (Tip – to get even more vitamin C, add in another!) 1 orange = 70mg 1 potato = 20mg 1 cup broccoli = 90mg ½ capsicum = 110mg 1 green kiwifruit = 65mg 1 tomato = 30mg 1 cup cauliflower = 50mg

So in summary, you can’t go wrong with adding more fruit and vegetables into your diet… it may decrease the duration of your cold, but you will have many other added benefits! Add them to your breakfast cereal, in a smoothie, or at the dinner table. Add supplements into your diet if you have the extra cash to spend on them, and are unlikely to meet your requirements from fruits and vegetables.

Happy eating!

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