Harvard Health Letter

What you should know about: Vitamin C

You may hear each winter that vitamin C can fight off the common cold. But is it just hype, or does it really help?

"The findings of a large number of studies on the subject are mixed," says Dr. Bruce Bistrian, chief of clinical nutrition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

The vital C

Vitamin C is a water-soluble essential nutrient found in highest concentration in fruits (particularly citrus), green vegetables, and tomatoes. It's necessary for bone structure, iron absorption, skin integrity, and immune function. A severe deficiency in vitamin C can cause a disease called scurvy, which is rare but can be fatal.

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