Last updated: Aug 20, 2008
oranges-vitamin-c
Some studies suggest that vitamin C may limit a cold's severity, but others do not show a benefit.
(ISTOCKPHOTO)
The überhealthy dont shrug off an impending cold—they attack it. Jenny Spring, 29, of Cambridge, Mass., takes a double shot of vitamin C and zinc at the first sign of ominous sniffles or throat tickles. She sips the powdered drink mix Emergen-C (it packs 1,000 mg of vitamin C) once or twice a day, followed by a few blasts of Zicam, an over-the-counter zinc nasal spray. “Ive warded off coughs and colds long enough that I dont remember the last time I had one,” she says.


Although vitamin C and zinc for cold prevention remain controversial, some studies show that C is especially helpful for people who are under extreme stress and that zinc can prevent viruses from multiplying. Experts say theres no harm in trying—and just believing these remedies work may help too.

Make C work for you: Neil Schachter, MD, director of respiratory care at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City, suggests a more conservative amount of vitamin C (500 mg a day) at the first sign of a cold. And the Institute of Medicine advises drawing the line at 2,000 mg daily to avoid gastrointestinal or kidney problems. As for zinc, its available in many forms. Dont care for nose sprays? Dr. Schachter suggests taking zinc lozenges several times a day when a cold starts.