It’s cold season: what is the down low on Vitamin C supplements?

It is that time again…muscle aches and pains, sniffles, sore throats and fevers…yes it is cold season.

Each year I have friends and family tell me that they are taking Vitamin C supplements to prevent the common cold.

I am not a believer in supplements and would rather everyone get their nutrients from whole foods. So I thought that I would do some research, I want to see if it is worth taking Vitamin C in the winter months, and also if we can save some $$.

So firstly some background on Vitamin C

Vitamin C (also called L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate) is a vitamin that humans are unable to create themselves and therefore needs to be consumed by eating foods containing it.

It is a handy little water soluble vitamin  necessary for normal growth and development and responsible for keeping your skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels healthy. It also assists with wound healing and repairing and maintaining cartilage, bones and teeth.

how much do we need?

According to the NRV’s adults need 45mg/day (anything else is excreted)

What foods contain good amounts of vitamin c?

All fruit and vegetables contain some vitamin C.

Foods with particularly high amounts include:

  • Watermelon
  • Cantaloupe
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
  • Green and red peppers
  • Spinach, cabbage, turnip greens, and other leafy greens
  • Mango
  • Papaya
  • Sweet and white potatoes
  • Tomatoes and tomato juice
  • Winter squash
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Pineapple
  • Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries

So what did i find?

I had a quick scan of then endless journal articles and this is what I found.

  1. Consuming high amounts of vitamin C does not stop you from getting the cold (sorry guys!)
  2. Some studies have shown that consuming high amounts of vitamin C may reduce cold symptoms or shorten the life of the cold (not significantly)
  3. While this is great consuming excessively high doses of vitamin C can lead to symptoms such as abdominal cramping, nausea, fatigue, kidney stones and diarrhoea (so is it really worth it?)


There is no magic vitamin that will help protect you against getting unwell during the colder months.

Instead of buying expensive vitamin C supplements save your $$ and eat fruit and vegetables high in nutrients and spend your well earned cash on a holiday to some place a bit warmer!

Jess x

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