If your body needs vitamins, it can get them from a variety of sources. But that doesn’t mean taking vitamins is entirely invalid. For example, some vitamin and mineral deficiencies are linked to cold symptoms, so adding extra supplements may help lessen the severity or duration. In some cases, doctors recommend high doses — provided you don’t have an underlying condition that supplements could aggravate.
To help determine if you should take vitamin C, for example, tell your doctor about any medical conditions you have now or in the past, discuss medications you’re taking (both prescription and OTC), and share when you might have become ill with other ailments (such as mononucleosis). Your doctor will consider these factors when weighing the pros and cons of vitamin supplements. How do vitamins work? Vitamins are essential nutrients necessary for normal growth, development, and body functions. However, your body can’t make them on its own, so you must consume them in foods or as dietary supplements — either way is fine (unless you’re allergic to a supplement). Because your body gets what it needs from food, most people don’t need extra vitamins unless they have certain health conditions or deficiencies.
Although the most common forms of the vitamin are found in food, your body doesn’t store excess amounts. But since some people may not get enough from foods alone, taking a supplement won’t hurt. For example, experts recommend that healthy teens and adults take 90 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C daily to help prevent the common cold. The recommended dose for kids under age 14 is 85 mg a day.
What’s in it: Vitamin C comes in various fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, kiwi fruit, broccoli, and fortified cereals. It can also be found in supplements like gummies or tablets.
What it may do: People who get 400 mg per day or more have been shown in studies to experience less frequent chest congestion (a common cold symptom), nasal discharge, and sneezing. Although there isn’t enough research available to determine if this also helps with fever, muscle aches, and fatigue during a cold, adding extra amounts of vitamin C might be beneficial because these are often experienced during a cold as well.
Zinc for a Cold:
Zinc is an important mineral your body needs to stay strong. It’s found in many foods, including beef, beans, pork, and yogurt. But studies have shown that zinc lozenges may help shorten the duration of a cold when taken within 24 hours, although some researchers question their effectiveness for this purpose.
What’s in it: Zinc comes in various forms — lozenges, syrup, and tablets are among them. Look for products that contain at least 15 mg per serving.
What it may do: Studies show that people who took 30 milligrams (mg) of zinc gluconate as soon as they got sick reduced their cold duration by about a day. If you have a cold, talk to your doctor about whether or not this is an option for you.
Some research suggests that people who took 400 IU of vitamin E per day for at least two months had less severe cold symptoms than those who took placebo pills — primarily nasal discharge and sneezing were reduced. However, it’s unclear if this also helped calm coughs or reduce fatigue.
What’s in it: There are various forms of vitamin E available, such as alpha-tocopherol concentrate (the natural form) and dl-alpha-tocopherol (synthetic). If you’re buying a vitamin E supplement, look for the natural one.
What it may do: People who took 400 IU of vitamin E per day within 24 hours of getting sick often experienced less severe nasal discharge and sneezing than those who didn’t take supplements, according to research. It also might reduce cough symptoms, but more study is needed on this. Other evidence shows that people taking at least 400 IU daily for two months had less fatigue than placebo group members. However, vitamin E isn’t known to diminish muscle aches or other cold symptoms.
Calcium for Cold Prevention: Calcium is a mineral essential for the growth and maintenance of bones and other functions. But because your body doesn’t store extra amounts, you need to get enough calcium from food and/or supplements every day. Some evidence shows that people who took 2,500 mg of calcium per day or more had no colds over three months.
What’s in it: Calcium comes in many forms — such as chewable tablets and liquids. For example, the supplement calcium carbonate contains 40% elemental calcium (the most absorbable form), while others contain only 20%. If you’re looking to take supplements for cold prevention, choose those containing at least 30% elemental calcium.
What it may do: People with a vitamin D deficiency were less likely to have colds when they took calcium, according to one study. Another found that people who took 2,500 mg a day or more for three months had no colds over that period.
Discuss the pros and cons with your doctor before taking any type of supplement because there may be side effects if you have a medical condition or take medications that could interact with it. We can help, call now 205-352-9141.