Does Vitamin C Shortens Cold Duration

Sources of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with many health benefits which helps to strengthen the immune system and aid in lowering blood pressure.

The powerhouse antioxidants are gained from eating fruits and vegetables as our bodies are not able to produce this essential vitamin.

Vitamin C is believed to alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, with the most extensive infection being that of the common cold. We will be further exploring on does vitamin C shorten the cold duration.

What is the Role of Vitamin C – Does It Shorten Cold Duration?

The administration of Vitamin C does not decrease the average incidence of colds in the general population, yet it is believed it can reduce the number of common colds by half in physically active people.

When Vitamin C is taken regularly, it can help to shorten the duration of colds which is as a result of its biological effects. The role of Vitamin C in common cold treatment is, to help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals

Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation from the sun, X-ray, and other sources. Vitamin C contains ascorbic acid that is excellent for treating the following:

  • Bacteria
  • Toxins
  • Common colds
  • Herpes
  • Zoster
  • Pneumonia
  • Protozoa
  • Respiratory tract infection
  • Viruses
  • Tetanus

Vitamin C is believed to be discovered in the early twentieth century in search of a deficiency substance that could treat scurvy. Scurvy was associated with pneumonia, indicating that the factor that cured scurvy could also affect pneumonia.

In a 1920 research, it was suggested that the autopsy findings were pneumonia, Lobular lobar is one of the most frequent complications (of scurvy) that sometimes cause death.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that safeguards the integrity of the connective tissues and protects against infections

Clinical data provided showed that the Vitamin C level in the plasma of people in good health becomes saturated at about 70 umol/L when the intake is about 02 g/day.

On the other hand, when Vitamin C intake is below 0.1 g/day there is a steep relationship between plasma vitamin C level and the dose of the vitamin.

When your vitamin C intake level is below 0.01 g/day you may experience symptoms of the disease known as scurvy. It is therefore recommended that in order to have the required level,  you should maintain a dietary intake of about 0.2 g/day of vitamin C.

If your vitamin c intake is below the required level then it is advisable that you make up the shortfall with supplements.

Oxidative Stress Caused by Infections

Vitamin C is an antioxidant, and therefore the effects may be most prominent under conditions when oxidative stress is elevated. Many infections lead to the activation of phagocytes, which release oxidizing agents called reactive oxygen species (ROS).

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a role in the process that leads to the deactivation of viruses and the killing of bacteria.

However, many of the ROS appear to be harmful to the host cells, and in some cases, they play a role in the pathogenesis of infections.

Vitamin C is an efficient water-soluble antioxidant and can protect host cells against the actions of ROS released by phagocytes.

These phagocytes have a specific transport system by which the oxidized form of vitamin C (dehydro-ascorbic acid) is carried into the cell where it is changed into the reduced form of vitamin C.

Increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) production during the immune response to pathogens can decrease in vitamin C levels in infections. Evidence showed that plasma, leukocytes, and urinary vitamin C levels decrease in the common cold and in other infections.

It was reported that vitamin C levels in leukocytes halved when someone contracted a cold and returned to the original level one week after recovery. Vitamin C levels are also decreased by pneumonia.

When there is a decrease in vitamin C levels during various infections, the administration of vitamin C will boost your immune system and promotes fast wound healing.

Does Vigorous Physical Activity Increases Oxidative Stress?

Intense physical stress leads to the elevation of oxidative stress, and therefore, responses to vitamin C can be observed when people are particularly active physically.

Studies have shown that vitamin C, when administered decreased the levels of free radicals generated during exercise. Vitamin C administration reduced the increases in oxidative stress markers caused by exercise.

Vitamin C administration also lessened the increases in oxidative stress markers caused by exercise, and therefore, vitamin C supplements might have a beneficial effect on people who are under physical stress.

Studies done in animals and humans have shown that vitamin C can protect against stress caused by cold and hot environments.

Some common cold studies showed positive results that physically active participants in cold environments and also marathon runners in South Africa were protected by vitamin C and therefore concluded that the effects of vitamin C in the protection against cold or heat stress might also be relevant.

Benefits of Vitamin C Supplementation

The effects of vitamin C supplementation may be more relevant when the baseline vitamin c level is particularly low.

Due to the noted profound vitamin c deficiency associated with pneumonia in earlier times, it seems plausible that less severe vitamin C deficiency aka marginal vitamin C deficiency can be associated with increased risk and severity of infections.
Vitamin C levels in white blood cells are ten times higher than plasma, which plays a functional role of vitamin in the immune system cells.
They can also affect the functions of phagocytes, the production of interferon, the replication of viruses, and the maturation of T-lymphocytes.

It has been reported that some of the effects of vitamin C on the immune system may be non-specific and in some cases, other antioxidants had similar effects.


Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps in the production of collagen. Without this antioxidant the body cannot form collagen, making it an essential cofactor in collagen synthesis.
Research shows that the presence of vitamin C directly triggers DNA to regulate and maintain the intercellular amount of collagen, therefore, having a direct effect on anti-aging.

The common cold is the leading cause of acute morbidity, and doctors’ visits in high-income countries and is a major cause of absenteeism from work and school. This is comparable to that hypertension or stroke.

When vitamin C is ingested regularly, it is believed that it can shorten the duration of colds which is due mainly because of its biological effects. If in doubt that you are not getting enough vitamin C, you can up your intake with supplements.

I hope this post was of interest, and if you ever have a question, on the subject matter please feel free to leave a comment below and I will be more than happy to help.


2 thoughts on “Does Vitamin C Shortens Cold Duration”

  1. I believe that vitamin C has so many benefits, but it is often taken and you also hear this from doctors to help with the common cold. During the Pandemic, people were advised to keep vitamin C on hand at all times. But I want to thank you so much for explaining and for the breakdown when taking vitamin C.


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