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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

More than 30 clinical trials involving over 10,000 participants 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 and marathon runners.  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. recommendation for daily intake of vitamin C is 75 mg for adult women and 90 mg for adult men.

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 our much vitamin C we take as our blood level concentration of vitamin C isn’t going to increase much more.

How Much Vitamin C is too much?

The upper intake level (UL) for vitamin C is 2,000 mg per day for men and women.

Taking high levels of vitamin C can cause nausea, severe diarrhea, as well as kidney stones. And if you prefer a chewable form for supplements, many of these tablets can damage tooth enamel.

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.

Consult with a physician when choosing a multivitamin based on your body’s specific needs. Cooper Complete Basic One, Original and the Cooper Complete Healthy Body Pack contain vitamin C in amounts complementing the average diet.

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