Vitamin C prevents and cures all the ailments of the common cold.
True or false? Maybe you have even heard that vitamin C protects the immune system of athletes and people under extreme conditions?
The answer :
True and false. With the onset of the cold season, it is believed that our vitamin C intake will decrease. So we run to get some supplements at the drugstore and eat it all in the hope of not being sick this winter. But be careful, you still have to respect the dosage, because too much vitamin C can have repercussions on your health. Let’s see how vitamin C can help you on your next hike or expedition.
A great vitamin
Vitamin C is water soluble – that is, it is soluble in water. Every day, our body must obtain this vitamin from food. It is essential for the formation of collagen (a structural protein in bones), skin, blood vessels and ligaments. Also, vitamin C helps maintain immune function, improves wound healing and helps form red blood cells. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, able to neutralize certain molecules harmful to our body. After intense and prolonged exertion, these molecules increase in the body and vitamin C helps eliminate them through a process that is still poorly understood.
Studies of vitamin C for the prevention of colds are not new
The first (dating back to the 1970s) suggested consuming large doses (ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 mg per day) to prevent and treat colds. This is eleven times more than today’s recommended daily allowance of 90 mg for men and 75 mg for women! Since then, studies have been piling up. Here is a summary of the findings of the last 60 years of research in this area:
- When a cold starts, taking vitamin C supplements does not reduce the duration or symptoms.
- Vitamin C taken daily and as a preventive measure slightly reduces the duration of the common cold by 8% in adults and by 14% in children.
- In endurance athletes and people who regularly train in extreme temperature conditions, taking vitamin C regularly reduces the risk of catching a cold or respiratory infection by 50%.
In short, for those who perform prolonged exercises such as marathon runners, followers of long hikes and skiers keen on long journeys, taking vitamin C will have a greater influence. Vitamin C would also play an important role in the cells of the immune system and thus ensure better recovery.
Take it or not?
If you decide to take it, avoid megadoses: the human body is not able to absorb more than 400 mg of vitamin C per day. If you consume more, the excess will be eliminated. The maximum tolerable limit of vitamin C has been set at 2000 mg daily. Beyond this dose you will have side effects such as nausea and diarrhea (the latter can be severe in children and older people). For people who regularly train at high intensity and for a long time, or for those who are preparing for an important event, it is recommended to start with a supplement of 250 mg per day, three weeks before the event.
In what foods is it found?
Of course, it’s always best to meet your vitamin needs in a more natural way. For example, a 250 ml (8 oz) glass of orange juice contains more than the recommended daily amount. Of all the foods, colorful, raw fruits and vegetables contain the most vitamin C: red pepper, orange, kiwi, lemon, grapefruit, cantaloupe, raspberry, strawberry, broccoli, tomato, etc.
It’s not just vitamin C
Also, don’t forget Echinacea, a herb that has shown several beneficial effects on the immune system. Studies show that echinacea increases the number of white blood cells and increases the activity of certain immune cells. As with vitamin C, it is difficult to compare results from daily use as doses vary widely from study to study. However, if you stick to it, it is important to take echinacea at the first sign of a cold or flu at a rate of one gram per day, three times per day.
We also suggest this comforting stew to fight the cold!