Beth Kitchin PhD RDN blogs on health and nutrition. Her blogs are fact-based and offer a common sense approach to a healthier life. She's a food lover so don't expect her to tell you what not to eat! Beth is a an Assistant Professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Nutrition Sciences Department and the patient educator at UAB's Osteoporosis Prevention and Treatment Clinic. She also appears weekly as a guest contributor on WBRC's morning show "Good Day Alabama".
When you get a cold, do you start
popping the vitamin C tablets? If you do, you might want to think twice.
Vitamin C supplements don’t do a whole lot to cut your cold chances and they
might even be bad for your kidneys.
vitamin C prevent colds?
Taking a vitamin C supplement regularly before
you get a cold, may decrease the time you have the cold – but just a little. An
analysis of 44 studies showed that 1000 mg a day can cut the time you have a
cold by about half a day. The usual recommendation is 500 mg twice a day. But taking
vitamin C after you have a cold, probably won’t do you much good. 1000 mg a day
may also lower your risk of gout. A lower dose 60 to 250 mg may help prevent
cataracts – but too much can actually increase your risk of cataracts.
But, too much can be dangerous. Taking 2000
mg a day for a long time may damage the kidneys and increase the risk of kidney
stones. So if you do supplement, keep it to 1000 mg a day or less. Vitamin C
supplements can also cause diarrhea and intestinal upset.
I don’t typically recommend vitamin C
supplements for my patients. I do
recommend that you get lots from your foods. Some studies show an association
between higher intakes from food and a lower risk of stroke, some cancers, and overall
health. Men need 90 mg a day of vitamin C and women need 75 mg a day. It’s a
good idea to get more than that from your diet for optimal disease prevention.
Luckily, it’s easy to get lots of C from your foods.
How can you increase your dietary
vitamin C intake? Here is a list of the foods highest in vitamin C:
High in Vitamin C:
1/2 cup red pepper 95 mg
¾ cup orange juice93 mg
1 cup strawberries 84 mg
1 orange 70 mg
1 medium kiwi fruit 64 mg
1/2 grapefruit 42mg
1/2 cup raw broccoli80 mg
½ cup cooked broccoli58 mg
baked or sweet potato25 mg
1/2 cup turnip/collard greens20 mg
So as you can see, a diet high in fruits
and vegetables can easily supply your daily need for vitamin C – and then some.
Does this mean you should ditch your vitamin C supplement? Not necessarily –
just don’t overdo it. Stick with no more than a 500 mg twice a day if you want
to continue vitamin C supplements.Just
don't let a vitamin C supplement take the place of high C foods!