As I discussed in my last article we are more susceptible to both the common cold and flu around Christmas time when the weather goes cold. Whilst there is no cure for the common cold or the flu there are a number of popular suggestions for preventing it. One such suggestions is to take high doses of vitamin C. Today, I will be discussing if vitamin C really can help prevent the common cold and any of the other potential benefits it can offer you over this Christmas period.
In my previous post on vitamin C I mentioned that one of the benefits is that it can reduce the symptoms of the common cold. However, research into this area has shown that these benefits may be limited. According to Hemilä et al  vitamin C does not help prevent the common cold but does reduce the duration and severity of the symptoms slightly. So if it cannot help prevent the common cold and it can only improve the symptoms marginally is there any reason to consume vitamin C this Christmas? Absolutely. Read on to find out why.
1) IT CAN HELP WITH CHAPPED LIPS:- People’s lips often become chapped during Christmas because the air is dry and lacks moisture. On top of this cold winds dry the lips out even further. Once the lips get chapped they often become damaged and cracked. Vitamin C is essential in the healing of all types of wounds so not getting the recommended daily allowance (RDA) over Christmas could leave you with sore, dry lips.
2) IT CAN STRENGTHEN YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM:- Although it has already been established that vitamin C does not have a significant effect on the common cold, it does have a major role to play in the immune system. It promotes the production of white blood cells and antibodies (which help your body fight viral infections). It also acts as an antioxidant meaning that it protects the body’s cells (including those that make up the immune system) from the damage that oxygen can cause. Therefore, vitamin C is essential for keeping your immune system performing at its peak. This is especially important during Christmas and winter when you are more susceptible to infections such as the common cold and the more serious flu virus.
3) IT CAN HELP YOU LOSE WEIGHT:- Christmas is usually a time when our diet and exercise regime starts to slide. The cold weather makes us want to wrap up and sit indoors whilst the high calorie treats such as mince pies, cookies and eggnog seem to be everywhere we look. However, by making a concious effort to consume the RDA of vitamin C you will be eating healthier, lower calorie foods. Oranges, tomatoes, kiwis and peppers are all rich in vitamin C and provide a nutrient dense, low calorie alternative to some of the Christmas treats mentioned above.
Vitamin C may not do what it is famous for and protect you from the common cold over Christmas. However, that’s no excuse to avoid it. Like the other vitamins, vitamin C is a vital for your health and could prove even more beneficial during the Christmas holidays.
What do you guys think? Have I missed any of the key Christmas benefits associated with vitamin C? Are there any other vitamins and minerals you would recommend during the Christmas period?
 Hemilä H, Chalker E, Treacy B, Douglas B. Vitamin C for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007, Issue 3. Art. No.: CD000980. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD000980.pub3.
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