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Vitamin C and Zinc for Colds

 Vitamin C and Zinc for Colds

Disclaimer: This content has been produced purely for informational and educational purposes only and is never intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical guidelines including diagnosis, advice, and treatment.  

Colds are viral respiratory infections that are highly contagious, meaning they can easily travel from person to person. Although infections may attack year-round, people are usually more vulnerable to catching colds during the colder months. And surprisingly conventional antibiotics don’t work on colds. It’s why a large number of people turn to home remedies. The benefits of vitamin C and zinc for colds are most often purported, especially in the dietary supplements group. But do they really help? Let’s find it out together. 

In this article, we’ll explore the potential benefits of vitamin C and zinc for colds as per scientific evidence. But before we get into how vitamin C and zinc can help with colds, first, we’ll need to know the basics of colds a little bit more. So, let’s get started. 

Table of contents 

  • What are colds?
  • Symptoms of colds
  • Causes of colds 
  • Complications of colds
  • What is vitamin C and why is it so important for colds? 
  • What is zinc and why is it so important for colds? 
  • Potential benefits of vitamin C and zinc for colds 
  • Precautions and side effects 
  • Final words 

What are colds?

Colds or otherwise called common colds are respiratory illnesses caused by infections from viruses. Colds usually affect the upper respiratory tracts, particularly the nose and throat. Antibiotics cannot kill viruses that are responsible for colds. But most cases are harmless and people start to feel better within one to two weeks with simple home remedies such as vitamin C and zinc supplements and adequate liquid intake along with rest. 

If symptoms don’t improve even after three weeks or abruptly become worse, you may consider seeking medical attention immediately. 

Symptoms of colds

There are various symptoms of colds that gradually develop and may peak within three to four days. Some symptoms also get more intense over time. Common symptoms may include: 

  • A sore throat 
  • A stuffy or runny nose 
  • Sneezing 
  • Coughs 
  • Headaches 
  • Muscle aches 
  • Loss of smell and taste 
  • Pressure on the face or ears 
  • A rise in body temperature (albeit in rare cases)
  • Watery eyes 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Fatigue or tiredness 
  • Chest congestion 


Causes of colds 

Colds are caused by many different viruses. Studies suggest that there are around 200 types of viruses that can cause a common cold, but the most common type is rhinoviruses. Other types of cold-causing viruses include parainfluenza and seasonal coronaviruses. But don’t get confused with seasonal coronaviruses and SARS-CoV-2 which is responsible for COVID-19. They are different and not the same. 

Complications of colds 

If not managed, colds may develop a range of health issues, such as:  

  • Pneumonia 
  • Bronchitis 
  • Asthma 
  • Acute sinusitis 
  • Inflammation with swelling and pain 
  • Ear infection (otitis media)

What is vitamin C and why is it important for colds? 

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble nutrient that is essential for health. It has exceptional antioxidant properties that can reduce or prevent damage to cells and tissues from harmful free radicals that are widely found in pollution, industrial chemicals, cigarette smokes, and alcohol. 

Vitamin C is an integral part of the immune system. It’s primarily found in high levels in white blood cells, the primary cells of the body’s natural defense system, i.e. the immune system. Therefore, vitamin C is essential for producing white blood cells to protect the body from infections. 

What is zinc and why is it so important for colds?

Zinc is a vital trace element that is needed for around 100 enzymes, albeit in very small amounts, to carry out important chemical reactions in the body. It plays a crucial role in cell growth, DNA creation, protein building, wound healing, damaged tissue recovery, and of course, maintenance of a healthy immune response. 

Defects in the immune system may lead to low antibody levels, which in turn may result in repeated infections. Zinc has the capacity to prevent defects in the immune system and thus, can hugely help in reducing the frequency of infections including colds and associated symptoms. 

Potential benefits of vitamin C and zinc for colds 

Vitamin C and zinc have their own mechanism of action, but they both play a major role in strengthening the immune function and lowering the risk of infections. Besides, vitamin C helps in the absorption of zinc in the body that’s which makes these two nutrients an impressive duo to fight against colds. Multiple studies support the idea of taking vitamin C and zinc for colds.   

A 2018 meta-analysis in Biomed Research International concluded that vitamin C has the ability to shorten colds and lessen associated symptoms. 

A 2016 mata-analysis published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed that zinc can help significantly reduce the duration of colds usually by 2 to 4 days and cold patients may be encouraged to try this in the treatment of their colds. 

Precautions and side effects 

Like with all supplements, consuming too much vitamin C and zinc may cause adverse effects. Besides, the actual recommended doses are different for different people depending on their specific health needs. Therefore, it’s always highly recommended to consult with a licensed doctor who is well-versed in the field of dietary supplements to find out recommended doses and avoid adverse effects. 

Although vitamin C and zinc usually do not show any side effects when taken in recommended amounts, excess intake may cause: 

  • Headache 
  • Stomach upset 
  • Unpleasant taste in the mouth 

Though too much intake of vitamin C is unlikely to produce any serious adverse effects, there might be a risk of: 

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea 

Intake of too much zinc may produce some dangerous or more significant side effects, like: 

  • Stomach bleeding 
  • Increased urination 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Tooth staining 
  • Uneven heart rate 

If you experience any of these side effects, stop taking vitamin C and zinc supplements and immediately contact your healthcare provider. 

Fina words 

There are decent amounts of studies that support the intake of vitamin C and zinc for colds. They can help shorten the duration of colds and also lessen associated symptoms. But it’s important to work with a licensed doctor to determine the best doses and safety profile before using any supplements.

Here you can see Vorst’s pure and natural Vitamin C 500 mg Tablets  

Here you can see Vorst’s Vitamin C Chewable Orange Flavour Tablets  

Here you can see Vorst’s Zinc with Copper Capsules