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"Common cold? Boost up your vitamin C intake!" This is the advice you will always receive when suffering from common cold. Vitamin C, also known as L-Ascorbic acid is an all rounder, when it comes to health. What does this vitamin do? It plays a vital role in combating infections, wound healing, maintaining healthy skin, teeth, and the bones. The human body does not synthesize it and therefore, external intake of this vitamin through natural food or supplements is vital. So, is the use of supplements a good idea?

Well, this usually depends on your dietary intake. If your diet incorporates a balanced intake of foods such as tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, oranges, grapefruit, external supplements might not be necessary. If you are someone, who is always on the run and does not have much choice with healthy food, then a recommended dose of supplements would be ideal. A daily intake of 90 mg ascorbic acid is ideal according to the recommendation of the North American Dietary Reference Intake. In this case, multivitamins containing this vitamin would be even better.

Are These Supplements Good or Bad?

The Good Side
  • Research has shown that when people residing in colder regions of the world suffer from common cold, a booster dose of vitamin C enhances recovery. So, if you are from these regions, do consider this only after consulting your family doctor.
  • Scurvy is a condition caused due to the lack of this vitamin. It is manifested by the symptoms, such as, dry skin with spots including bleeding gums and also, swelling of long bones. This can be treated with an oral medication of vitamin C.
  • The vitamin is a natural antioxidant and prevents the generation of free radicals in the body. These radicals disintegrate collagen causing loose and spotty skin. Thus, supplements of this vitamin do help in keeping you younger in a way, than your actual age.
  • Its antioxidant properties also play a role in wound healing. Thus, intake of supplements for a shift in the process of wound healing will be useful.
  • Researchers from the National Institute on Aging, Bethesda, have shown that the relative risk of cancer is reduced, when an individual consumes the right amount of vitamins E and C supplements.
  • Moderate intake of this vitamin in the form of supplements during pregnancy, has reported no significant effects on the health of the child or mother, although speculations have been made about the supplements preventing pre-eclampsia. However, excessive intake of the vitamin may cause preterm birth.
  • This vitamin is beneficial for kids, as it strengthens the immune system. As kids are more prone to cold, the chewy tablets will be fun as well as a healthy way to keep the cold at bay.
The Bad Side

When these vitamin supplements are taken in the right amount, side effects may not be observed. However, excessive intake may cause side effects, such as, headache, vomiting, and nausea. Also, reaction of supplements with other nutrients may become a major concern. Niacin, which is a nutrient that increases the good cholesterol interacts with vitamin C and its absorption is inhibited, which leads to the ineffectiveness of niacin. Thus, it is necessary to be aware of the right amount of supplements to be taken, when taking in conjunction with other drugs, nutrients, or vitamin supplements.

Contraindications
  • Vitamin C increases the uptake of iron from blood and therefore, taking these supplements is risky or sometimes, even fatal for patients suffering from hemochromatosis.
  • If you are under medication, supplements of this vitamin may interfere with the uptake and clearance of the drug, thus altering its efficiency. For instance, patients under Warfarin must avoid these supplements. Warfarin is an anticoagulant and prevents blood clotting in venous thrombosis, whereas, vitamin C enhances the blood clotting. Due to the contradicting nature of these two compounds, it is best to avoid ingestion of the vitamin supplement when under such medication.
  • Excessive intake of these supplements may lead to the formation of oxalate crystals in the kidneys, commonly known as kidney stones. It may also decrease the pH of the urine making it acidic, leading to the precipitation of myeloma proteins and thus affecting the kidneys.
Thus, anything in moderation is always a safe bet. As far as possible, you must ensure that the nutrient intake is through a healthy diet, and always consider supplements as a secondary option. Before buying these supplements, always be sure of their chemical composition. Consult your doctor before beginning a course of any supplement.