Should I take antioxidants to prevent colds?
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The cold season is back and you might have asked yourself whether you should take vitamin C supplements to boost your immune system. But are you really doing something good for yourself by taking supplements?
Eating a balanced diet containing lots of different vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals has been shown to influence health in many positive ways. The health industry took advantage of these findings by producing an abundance of different supplements (the UK market is worth £400m).
However, the evidence about health benefits of antioxidant supplements such as vitamin A, C, E or beta-carotene is not encouraging. An increasing amount of research has actually shown that these supplements are likely to speed up cancer progression. It is therefore recommended to speak to a health care professional before taking any supplements in order to avoid an increased health risk and interaction with medication. Dietary supplements are no substitution for a healthy diet.
Even though vitamin C has been advertised for the common cold since the 1970s, experts have found little or no benefit of taking vitamin C supplements in the prevention of the cold for the general population.