The myths and truths about immunity
Oxygen|Fall 2020
It’s time to separate science from science fiction when it comes to your health and boost your immunity IQ.
Sandy Todd Webster

With cold and flu season upon us, there’s good reason to question the most common parables about immunity. Here, we leverage science to help deconstruct five of the most fabled assertions about health and the human condition.

Myth: Vitamin C prevents colds.

Truth: Not really, but it may reduce suffering time — a little bit. Meta-analyses examining whether prophylactic doses (200 milligrams) of vitamin C could prevent a cold revealed that there was no reduction in the frequency of catching a cold and only a little evidence — 8 to 14 percent — that it helped reduce the duration of colds. However, when looking specifically at skiers and marathoners in training, researchers found that a 200-plus-milligram dose of vitamin C cut their odds of getting a cold in half. If you regularly do high-intensity workouts, ensure you get your daily recommended 75 milligrams either through supplementation or through diet by way of dark leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes.

Myth: You should feed a cold and starve a fever.

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