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vitamin c spelled out with supplements

At the first signs of a cold, many people reach for vitamin C supplements. Yet there are many popular misconceptions related to vitamin C benefits for immunity.

Overall, research has yet to show any significant results in taking vitamin C after the onset of cold symptoms.  However, daily vitamin C intake has shown to reduce the frequency and severity of colds along with other minor respiratory infections.

Vitamin C and Immunity

Researchers compared 29 clinical trials involving over 11,000 participants and examined the effects of taking daily vitamin C. These trials look at prevention and treatment for colds related to different levels of vitamin C consumed.

Research on Vitamin C for Cold Prevention

On the surface, the vitamin C benefits for cold prevention don’t seem to exist. Compared to common advice, taking vitamin C daily did not reduce the development of a cold.

However, a subset of the studies looked at people living in extreme circumstances including skiers, marathon runners and soldiers on subarctic exercises.  According to the study conclusions, “evidence shows that it could be justified in persons exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise and/or cold environments.” Further, they found a “50% reduction in common cold incidence.”

As the subset of athletes was small; more studies are needed. Regardless, it looks like vitamin C for cold prevention in this population may make great sense.

This falls in line with results Dr. Cooper found on his research on marathoners.  He examined people exercising at 80 percent of predicted maximum heart rate for a minimum of five hours per week and found they have unique vitamin needs.

Vitamin C as a Cold Treatment Research

Common advice at the onset of cold symptoms suggests a regimen of high vitamin C intake.  Yet, this opposes numerous studies examining the effects of starting vitamin C after the onset of cold symptoms.

Plainly stated, “The trials in which vitamin C was introduced at the onset of colds as therapy did not show any benefit.” Unfortunately, reactive supplementation doesn’t seem to reduce the symptoms or the duration of the cold.

In contrast, there was a success at reducing the duration of cold symptoms during daily supplementation for prevention.  For “children this represented an average reduction of 14% in symptom days, while in adults the reduction was 8%.”

To help meet these goals of prevention, Cooper Complete includes these vitamin C benefits in our multivitamins with the Original (Iron Free and With Iron) containing 500 mg and the Basic One with 150 mg.

Benefits of Vitamin C for the Body

As a water-soluble, ascorbic acid, vitamin C benefits the body due to its ability to perform many critical functions of maintenance.  An example of these functions would be how it forms collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels.

These functions allow vitamin C to aid in repairing bones and teeth by helping the body to incorporate calcium into their tissues.  In addition, it helps the body heal wounds by speeding up the recovery process by aiding the body in forming new tissue.

Lastly, vitamin C helps absorb iron so the body can create enough red blood cells it needs and avoid anemia.

Foods High in Vitamin C

The body doesn’t make vitamin C naturally.  Therefore, to meet daily needs you must consume it from food (mostly fresh fruits and vegetables) and supplements. The orange juice folks do not have a monopoly on vitamin C.  There are many fruits and vegetables that contain great levels of vitamin C.

Here are some fruits and vegetables to meet vitamin C needs in a balanced diet:

  • 1/2 grapefruit: 38 mg
  • 1/2 cup orange juice: 41 mg
  • 1 cup tomato juice: 44 mg
  • 1/2 cup Brussels sprouts: 48 mg
  • 1 cup cooked kale: 53 mg
  • 1 medium orange: 70 mg
  • 1 cup sliced bell pepper: 74 mg
  • 1 cup cooked chopped broccoli: 74 mg
  • 1 large kiwi: 84 mg
  • 1 small papayas: 94 mg
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries: 98 mg
  • 1/2 medium cantaloupe: 100 mg

Vitamin C Daily Intake Recommendations

The U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is 75 mg for adult women age 19 and older and 90 mg for adult men age 19 and older. During pregnancy, the recommended daily allowance is 85 mg and increases to 120 mg during lactation for adult women age 19 age and older. The RDA table specifies that tobacco users should add 35 mg/day to these numbers. As a water-soluble vitamin, whatever our body doesn’t need immediately is eliminated.

In an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers reported that when the daily dose of vitamin C was increased from 200 to 2,500 mg, the plasma concentration increased by only 12- to 15 mg/L, and renal clearance of vitamin C rose sharply.

In addition, the digestive tract also stops absorbing vitamin C as well at these higher levels. So, the net effect is that after a certain level it doesn’t really matter how much vitamin C we take as our blood level concentration of vitamin C isn’t going to increase much more.

Several Cooper Complete formulations contain vitamin C. The chart below shows the amount of vitamin C found across the Cooper Complete line.

Vitamin C in Cooper Complete Nutritional Supplements

COOPER COMPLETE SUPPLEMENT AMOUNT PER SERVING
Natural Vitamin C (standalone supplement) 1,000 mg
Basic One Multivitamin 150 mg
Healthy Body Pack 150 mg
Original Multivitamin 500 mg
Dermatologic Health (for Hair, Skin and Nails) 350 mg
Eye Health 350 mg

How Much Vitamin C is too much?

As vitamin C is water-soluble, are there any risks associated with taking too much vitamin C? The upper intake level (UL) for vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day for men and women. Taking high levels of vitamin C may:

  • Cause diarrhea, nausea, heartburn and headache.
  • Increase oxalate kidney stones risk, especially in those who had previously had kidney stones.
  • Wreak havoc on tooth enamel, especially if the vitamin C is a gummy or chewable tablet
  • Cause a falsely elevated blood glucose result when measured using a self-monitoring blood glucose device

Vitamin C increases the adverse effects of acetaminophen and antacids.  You should consult your physician before taking a vitamin C supplement at the same time as these over-the-counter medications.

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