Vitamin C is often the go-to vitamin for people suffering from a common cold or flu. But does it actually stop illness all together? The short answer is no. While Vitamin C can’t stop a cold in its tracks, it can shorten the symptoms of a common cold, the duration, as well as decrease the frequency in which you get colds – but only if you consume vitamin C on a regular basis. Think of it as an immune booster rather than a cure.
Common colds aren’t all vitamin C is good for, however. It’s also beneficial for the growth and repair of skin, bones, teeth and other tissue, can reduce your risk of developing certain cancers, and it can even help with the absorption of iron.
Because our bodies cannot produce this water-soluble vitamin on its own, it’s a nutrient we need to get from food or supplements. The amount of vitamin C you need every day depends on your age and gender. Family physician, Dr. Ali Ghahary, recommends males and females aged 19 or older have an intake of anywhere from 75 to 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, while pregnant women should have an intake of 85mg, and breastfeeding women have an intake of 120. To compare, a medium orange would be the approximate equivalent of 70mg of vitamin C. You should always stay below 2000 milligrams, as taking too much vitamin C can lead to digestive problems. It’s also possible to be vitamin C deficient, though this is rare. Symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include rough or dry skin, bleeding gums, nose bleeds, swollen joints, and bruising.
Along with oranges, fruits that contain high levels of vitamin C include guava, papaya, kiwi, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, pineapple, cantaloupe, mango and grapefruit (but be careful with this, as grapefruit can interact with certain medications.) Vegetables such as red, green and yellow peppers, broccoli, cabbage, snow peas, kale, asparagus and tomato also contain vitamin C.