Vitamin C: perfect prophylaxis?
Helen Barratt wonders if vitamin C really does help sort out that all too common illness, the cold
Every winter, at the slightest sign of a sniffle, my mother whips out the “extra strength” vitamin C tablets and stands over us while we take them. She is convinced that they provide all the protection we need from coughs and colds. Any subsequent illnesses are met with a total lack of sympathy because we “obviously were not taking the tablets.”
It seems that this belief is not just confined to my mum's generation or our culture: I asked a friend in my year from Singapore whether or not he would take vitamin C for a cold. He nodded seriously and told me that there was little point taking it when I actually had a cold as it would not help the symptoms. Instead, I should take it before I become ill to stop the illness developing.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of nine water soluble vitamins required by