Vitamin C and orange juice have long been heralded by mothers and arm-chair physicians as two great ways to help stave off the common cold. But most of the evidence suggested otherwise, and a doctor recently stated that such a "cure" may just be a waste of time, oranges and money.
Pediatrician Nikki Nourmand spoke with Yahoo News recently about various myths related to the common cold and ways to curb its symptoms, and one of the revelations could save you cold cash in expensive jugs of orange juice, touted as a way to help cure the common cold because of the drink's high Vitamin C content.
It turns out that Vitamin C -- and by extension orange juice -- are "kind of a big waste of money," Nourmand told Yahoo News, because the doctor says Vitamic C is not linked with improved immune system function.
And Nourmand is not the first person to suggest that the massive Vitamin C pills and OJ many believe will help them bring a swifter end to the common cold are really nothing more than placebos we've come to take as a result of the persistent idea that they will help us recover faster.
WebMD, for instance, long ago posted the following information in hopes of debunking what many describe as the "myth" that Vitamin C is helpful for fighting the common cold many of us experience in winter:
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"At the very first sign of cold symptoms, many people reach right for a bottle of vitamin C supplements. Vitamin C for the common cold is such a widely accepted treatment that we seek it out in lots of products, such as fortified juices, cough drops, and tea.
"Vitamin C was first touted for the common cold in the 1970s. But despite its widespread use, experts say there's very little proof that vitamin C actually has any effect on the common cold."
There is some information that suggests that if you take a high dose of Vitamin C every day you may be able to help stave off a cold. But it really doesn't appear to help much, as a July 2007 study cited by WebMD found that if an average adult -- who suffers from a cold for 12 days out of each year -- were to take 200 or more milligrams of Vitamin C each day, he would likely cut that number only to 11 days.
As for treating colds once you already have them, WebMD says the evidence supporting imbibing large amounts of Vitamin C is even less convincing:
"When vitamin C was tested for treatment of colds in seven separate studies, vitamin C was no more effective than placebo at shortening the duration of cold symptoms."
And taking super-high doses of more than 2000 milligrams, as many people do, can lead to symptoms like diarrhea, nausea and kidney stones, WebMD warns.
On the other side, the Daily Beast cited a report that says that Vitamin C can actually help highly active people avoid the common cold:
"The research found that vitamin C did little to reduce either the length or severity of colds among the general population. However, studies have found that it may lower the risk of catching a cold among people whose bodies are under high physical stress—think marathon runners or soldiers on subarctic exercises. They were 50 percent less likely to catch a cold if they took a daily dose of vitamin C."
And a 2006 report showed that Vitamin C does help common cold sufferers tremendously:
"Twice Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling found that ascorbate (vitamin C) in a daily amount of 1,000 mg was repeatedly reported in double-blind controlled studies to decrease the incidence of colds by about 45 percent, and the integrated morbidity (duration) by about 63 percent."
So it may be best for you to do your own research and consult your doctor about the benefits of Vitamin C and its help with the common cold, though most of the evidence suggests it's not going to do much for you.