Vitamin C in The News
* This is a guest post by Charlotte Walker
Health and healthy food gets lots of coverage in the media, and rightly so considering the obesity and diet problems that many nations face. However, it can often be difficult to sort the truth from the hype: what are the stories we should pay attention to?
We’ve taken three recent Vitamin C news stories and looked beneath the headlines.
One website reported that some nutritional supplements, including Vitamin C, could prevent hair loss. It claimed that it was the vitamin’s antioxidant properties that had this effect (1).
Is it true?
Whilst vitamins and minerals are essential for the healthy growth of hair, hair loss is often caused by genetic factors which are outside human control. Stress, poor diet and other factors can also play a role in hair loss. Vitamins alone, therefore, cannot prevent hair loss, but do contribute to the health of the hair (2).
A new study featured in the Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis found that Vitamin C helped to protect against the thickening of artery walls (medically known as atherosclerosis) which was caused by smoking (3).
Is it true?
Smoking causes lots of free radicals to enter the body; free radicals are cell damaging particles that can cause a plethora of health problems. These include contributing to the build up of fatty deposits which cause artery walls to thicken. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties which help to combat the effects of free radicals.
The researchers conclude: “Exposure of guinea pigs to cigarette smoke causes the development of atherosclerosis, which can be prevented by vitamin C supplement” (4). However, as the study was carried out on guinea pigs it is unknown whether the same effects would be experienced in humans. Further research is therefore required.
This article states that taking Vitamin C (as well as zinc) can help cut the severity of your cough or cold (5).
Is it true?
The mainstream belief that Vitamin C helps colds was established in the 1970’s, when Nobel prize-winning scientist Linus Pauling published a book claiming that taking daily doses of Vitamin C could reduce the common cold by 45% (6).
Today, his theory remains highly controversial. There is some evidence to suggest that while Vitamin C can be beneficial in helping to reduce recovery time for some individuals, it cannot prevent colds from taking hold. The advice that many experts offer is to meet your daily vitamin and mineral requirements through healthy diet (7).
About the Guest Author
Charlotte Walker writes professionally on a number of health topics relating to vitamin supplementation, particularly those featured in the news. Most recently this includes Vitamin C. You can follow her on Twitter using @charlottewalker.
(1) Natural News (14th May, 2010). Nutritional Supplements Prevent Hair Loss: Vitamin C, Lysine, Omega 3.
(2) Hair Loss Expert (2010). Can vitamin supplements prevent hair loss?
(3) Food Consumer (15th May, 2010). Vitamin C cuts smoking-induced atherosclerosis risk.
(4) Ray, T. et al (13th May, 2010). Vitamin C Prevents Cigarette Smoke Induced Atherosclerosis in Guinea Pig Model. Journal of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis.
(5) Inquirer Lifestyle (11th May, 2010).Vitamin C and zinc help treat coughs and colds.
(6) Marshall, P. (18th May, 2002). Vitamin C: Do High Doses Prevent Colds?
(7) Medline Plus (8th August, 2008).Vitamin C and colds.