The C.A.M. Report
Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Fair, Balanced, and to the Point
  • About this web log

    This blog is intended as an objective and dispassionate source of information on the latest CAM research. Since my background is in pharmacy and allopathic medicine, I view all CAM as advancing through the development pipeline to eventually become integrated into mainstream medical practice. Some will succeed while others fail. But all are treated fairly here.

  • About the author

    John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.

  • Common sense considerations

    The material on this weblog is for informational purposes. It is not medical advice or counsel. Be smart, consult your health professional before using CAM.

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    Here’s what we know about vitamin C and the common cold

    150px-Ascorbic_acid_structureVitamin C (ascorbic acid) for preventing and treating the common cold has been a subject of controversy for 70 years.

    Now, The Cochrane Library has reviewed the data.

    First, the details.

    • 29 studies involving 11,306 participants contributed to the meta-analysis on the risk of developing a cold while taking vitamin C regularly.
    • 31 comparisons examined the effect of regular vitamin C use on common cold duration (9745 episodes).
    • The majority of included studies were randomized, double-blind — neither the researchers nor patients knew the treatment given.

    And, the results.

    • Regular ingestion of vitamin C had no effect on common cold incidence in the ordinary population.
    • Regular supplementation of at least 1 gram of vitamin C daily had a modest but consistent effect in reducing the duration of common cold symptoms in adults (8%) and in children (18%).
    • In participants exposed to short periods of extreme physical stress (including marathon runners and skiers) vitamin C reduce the common cold risk by up to half in some but not all studies.
    • No adverse effects of vitamin C were reported.

    The bottom line?

    Based on what we know it appears there is no evidence that regular supplementation of vitamin C reduces the chance of coming down with a common cold, although it may reduce the duration and severity of illness.

    The effect on people in extreme exercise situations is inconsistent.

    2/14/13 09:06 JR

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