In the two previous blogs we discussed the lack of substantiating data for taking Airborne or Echinacea as a proven treatment for the common cold. Now one of us would like to discuss the value of vitamin C. This gained popularity in the 1970s based upon the claims of Linus Pauling. Since then numerous studies have failed to confirm any benefit in reducing the severity or duration of cold symptoms. So where does that leave us. Based upon the two previous blogs you would probably conclude that I would not recommend taking vitamin C to alleviate cold symptoms. Not so.
When I was a first year resident at the University of California San Francisco I was having a horrible year adjusting to the damp climate of San Francisco after spending three years in the Air Force in San Antonio. I was having one respiratory infection after another and was besides myself. At that time in the 1960s one of the professors had a nobel laureate for a patient. His name was Linus Pauling. I had the opportunity to talk to him. He was a delightful gentleman. He told me that he took vitamin C regularly and if he was feeling like he was coming down with a cold he increased the amount that he took.
I decided there and then that if it was good enough for a nobel laureate it was certainly good enough for me. I began taking vitamin C a gram or two a day depending on how I felt. I had no more respiratory infections that year. Since then I infrquently have a cold.
Where does that leave us? My positive experience with vitamin C was not based on a carefully designed study. The results of a single person can not be expected to be transferable to others so I will let each of you decide for yourself whether or not you should supplement with vitamin C.