Plain language summary
The common cold poses a heavy burden worldwide, in terms of human health and economic losses. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate whether vitamin C could be used for relieving symptoms, shortening the duration, or reducing the incidence of the common cold. Nine randomised controlled trials conducted between 1950 and 2001 were included in the meta-analysis. No statistically significant effects were found when vitamin C was only started at the onset of symptoms, but regular supplementation with therapeutic doses of vitamin C at the onset of illness shortened the duration of the common cold and the time confined indoors, and relieved the symptoms, including chest pain, fever and chills. Based on this meta-analysis the authors recommend a small daily dose of vitamin C (no more than 1.0g/day) to support immunity and a larger dose of vitamin C during the common cold (a larger dose than before, usually 3.0 g/day to 4.0 g/day) to better recover health.
Aim: To investigate whether vitamin C is effective in the treatment of the common cold. Method: After systematically searching the National Library of Medicine (PubMed), Cochrane Library, Elsevier, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), VIP databases, and WANFANG databases, 9 randomized placebo-controlled trials were included in our meta-analysis in RevMan 5.3 software, all of which were in English. Results: In the evaluation of vitamin C, administration of extra therapeutic doses at the onset of cold despite routine supplementation was found to help reduce its duration (mean difference (MD) = -0.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) [-1.03, -0.10], and P = 0.02), shorten the time of confinement indoors (MD = -0.41, 95% CI [-0.62, -0.19], and P = 0.0002), and relieve the symptoms associated with it, including chest pain (MD = -0.40, 95% CI [-0.77, -0.03], and P = 0.03), fever (MD = -0.45, 95% CI [-0.78, -0.11], and P = 0.009), and chills (MD = -0.36, 95% CI [-0.65, -0.07], and P = 0.01). Conclusions: Extra doses of vitamin C could benefit some patients who contract the common cold despite taking daily vitamin C supplements.