Vitamin C for the prevention and treatment of the common cold.’ The public’s perception on vitamin C, the effect on the common cold and the habits they undertake in terms of supplementation and dietary food choices.
University of Wales Institute Cardiff
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Background: Vitamin C is commonly associated with the common cold, many people believe vitamin C consumption will prevent the onset of a common cold and/or help cold symptoms. The common cold has shown not to be prevented by vitamin C supplementation in the reviewed literature and there is no evidence supporting reduction in frequency of colds. There is little conclusive information on the relationship between vitamin C consumption and common cold knowledge of the public. Method: Participants were contacted by telephone and recruited to take part in the study. A total of 30 participants completed self-administered questionnaires on a one-to-one basis; the questionnaire was based on the subject of vitamin C consumption through supplementation and dietary food choices for the prevention and the treatment of the common cold. Results: Vitamin supplementation was shown to be regularly used among the participants (55%), vitamin C and multivitamins were the most popular supplement choice reasons for supplementation included to prevent illnesses, to maintain health and for the immune system. The statement ‘vitamin C prevents the common cold’ showed 57% agreed it was correct and 83% believed vitamin C helped with cold symptoms. However there was no significant association between believing these statements (p=0.982 & p=0.755) and taking supplements. Friends, family and magazines were the most influential sources of information on vitamin C; there was little influence from health professionals. The consumption of fruit and vegetables increased during a cold compared to when feeling well (p=0.016), the effect was more definite in the subjects with original higher intakes of fruit and vegetables. Conclusion: Vitamin C is taken regularly as a dietary supplement and a large proportion of people believe vitamin C can prevent the onset of the common cold and help with cold symptoms. The main source of information on vitamin C is family, friends and magazines therefore the beliefs are not scientifically based.
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