Ask the doctor: Vitamin C for health?

Q. Whatever happened to the idea that taking vitamin C could boost your immune system and prevent colds? Is there still a possibility it could work?

A. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, was promoted as a health supplement for decades, achieving its greatest renown in the 1970s through the writings of scientist Linus Pauling. Despite the excitement about its natural antioxidant function, vitamin C does not appear to prevent colds, and its ability to shorten the duration of colds is minimal. A recent summary of 29 studies involving more than 10,000 people confirmed the lack of benefit of regular vitamin C supplementation.

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