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Nutrients 2017, 9(4), 339; doi:10.3390/nu9040339

Vitamin C and Infections

Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki FI-00014, Finland
Received: 31 January 2017 / Revised: 24 February 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 29 March 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Vitamin C in Health and Disease)
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Abstract

In the early literature, vitamin C deficiency was associated with pneumonia. After its identification, a number of studies investigated the effects of vitamin C on diverse infections. A total of 148 animal studies indicated that vitamin C may alleviate or prevent infections caused by bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. The most extensively studied human infection is the common cold. Vitamin C administration does not decrease the average incidence of colds in the general population, yet it halved the number of colds in physically active people. Regularly administered vitamin C has shortened the duration of colds, indicating a biological effect. However, the role of vitamin C in common cold treatment is unclear. Two controlled trials found a statistically significant dose–response, for the duration of common cold symptoms, with up to 6–8 g/day of vitamin C. Thus, the negative findings of some therapeutic common cold studies might be explained by the low doses of 3–4 g/day of vitamin C. Three controlled trials found that vitamin C prevented pneumonia. Two controlled trials found a treatment benefit of vitamin C for pneumonia patients. One controlled trial reported treatment benefits for tetanus patients. The effects of vitamin C against infections should be investigated further. View Full-Text
Keywords: ascorbic acid; bacteria; bacterial toxins; common cold; herpes zoster; pneumonia; protozoa; respiratory tract infections; viruses; tetanus ascorbic acid; bacteria; bacterial toxins; common cold; herpes zoster; pneumonia; protozoa; respiratory tract infections; viruses; tetanus
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Hemilä, H. Vitamin C and Infections. Nutrients 2017, 9, 339.

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