The beneficial and protective effects of vitamin C against the typical autumn and winter colds are one of the recommendations that are transmitted from generation to generation and that, like other advice, has little consistent scientific basis to support it.
Therefore Despite widespread belief, no, vitamin C does not cure colds in children.
Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is important in childhood:
- For the health of soft tissues, such as the gums.
- For cartilaginous tissues.
- For hard tissues, such as bones and teeth, in addition to participating in the formation of collagen.
- Ensures the good health of blood vessels, so it is important for the healing of wounds and small cuts that children make.
- Due to its antioxidant potential, vitamin C prevents oxidative stress in cells and stands out for its involvement in the absorption of non-heme iron, that is, that which comes -mainly- from foods of plant origin.
Regarding common colds, some authors have reviewed the results obtained in recent years in clinical studies conducted in this regard. According to this review, once cold symptoms appear, taking or not taking more vitamin C offers no benefit, While a good prior contribution, even higher than the recommended daily amounts, it can reduce the duration of colds in children, up to 15%.
In the same vein, if it has been shown that some cells of the immune system, such as phagocytes or T lymphocytes, need vitamin C and its antioxidant capacity to perform their functions correctly, therefore, a deficiency in this vitamin can lead to a reduction in resistance to pathogens, while its correct contribution ensures that the immune system works optimally.
As vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, it is necessary to ensure its daily intake through the diet through foods that contain it. Citrus fruits, such as oranges, whether whole or in juice, and other fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, kiwis, and also tomatoes are important sources of vitamin C. Other vegetables that are also high in content include broccoli or cabbage / red cabbage, green and red peppers, potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
It is practically impossible to excessively exceed the recommended daily amounts of vitamin C with an exclusive contribution from the diet. However, consuming vitamin supplements during childhood it is possible to reach and exceed safe intakes of vitamin C (known as the maximum tolerable intake level), whose limit is related to damage to health, especially in the renal system -since excess vitamin C is excreted through urine. Thus It is not advisable to offer vitamin supplements to children without medical advice.
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