Americans spent more than $1 billion on Vitamin C supplements last year, and while it may seem like a good idea to get a boost from it when you've got a cold, experts with Consumer Reports say it may actually be a mistake.
The common cold can leave you sniffling, sneezing, and aching for a week or longer.
Experts such as Lauren Cooper of Consumer Reports say evidence shows taking a daily dose of Vitamin C supplements while you're still healthy might shorten your cold by a day, but starting it once you're already sick won't help.
Taking Vitamin C supplements won't prevent a cold in the first place, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Taking high doses of it can also cause other health problems. For example, studies have shown that men who take excessive amounts are twice as likely to develop kidney stones.
Consuming more than 2,000 milligrams of the supplements a day can also cause an upset stomach and painful cramps.
In general, the NIH recommends 90 milligrams per day for men and 75 milligrams a day for women to maintain good health. The dosage is about the equivalent of a single orange.
"The best way to get the Vitamin C you need is the old fashioned way - from fruits and vegetables," Cooper said.
Some of the best foods for Vitamin C include red and green peppers, citrus fruits, kiwi, and broccoli.
As for that cold, forget the quick fix. If you need some relief from your symptoms, choose over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever, or single-ingredient decongestants.
To help your cough, try throat lozenges or honey.
Ultimately, do what the doctors advise and get plenty of rest, drink lots of fluids, and if you'd like, pick up a good humidifier.
Experts warn about Vitamin C supplements as remedy for cold
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