Vitamin C Does Nothing for Your Cold But it can put off Cancer

Everyone thinks that if they have the common cold or flu if they increase the dose of vitamin C in their diet (via copious amounts of orange juice, honey and lemon tea, and vitamin c supplements etc etc…). As a kid I used to take these chewy Vitamin C pills in the hope that they would help prevent me from catching the cold from school especially at every new term start but to my dismay; I still caught the cold.

So does vitamin C actually work?

Studies have stated that although vitamin C does not prevent the common cold but it actually can reduce the severity and duration of it.

The Chemistry of Vitamin C

Vitamin C is also known as ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is known to have anti - carcinogenic properties. In English that means that it can prevent cancer in the body. Vitamin C reacts with organic free radicals to protect from the damage caused by free radicals in cells.

When ascorbic acid comes into contact with a free radical, ascorbic acid donates a single electron to become an ascorbyl radical. The ascorbyl radical is significantly more stable than most other radical species. This results in the "quenching" of the harmful free radical (X•) to form a less reactive and less harmful ascorbyl radical. Then the ascorbyl radical donates a second electron to another harmful free radical resulting in the formation of the oxidized form of ascorbic acid: dehydroascorbic acid. 

Therefore 1 vitamin C molecule is potentially able to hunt down 2 harmful free radical species that could potentially initiate cancerous cells in the body.

Radical chain reaction of ascorbic acid: (fig1)

So even though vitamin C may not get rid of your cold it can potentially save you from a worse condition, such as cancer.

Image: Vitamin C under the microscope!! 


[1] Oranges image