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Wednesday, October 03, 2012
Scientists say they can find no convincing evidence to show that taking vitamin D supplements will fend off a cold.
A New Zealand team did the "gold standard" of tests - a randomised placebo-controlled trial - to see what impact the supplements would have.
The 161 people who took daily vitamin D for 18 months caught as many colds as the 161 who took fake pills. The study was reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
But a leading UK cold expert said vitamin D was useful. Prof Ronald Eccles, of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, said it can give the immune system a much-needed boost during winter when vitamin D reserves may be low.
"There is sufficient information to indicate that vitamin D is a vital vitamin for the immune system. "Supplementation might help to support the immune system over the winter when we are short of vitamin D."
He said echinacea supplements may also help ward off coughs and colds, but added: "Supplements do not work for everybody because people's immune systems are different. It's not a case of one size fits all."
They are pointless unless you are deficient, he said.
We get most of our vitamin D from sunlight on our skin, but it is also found in certain foods like oily fish, eggs and breakfast cereals. Most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need by eating a healthy balanced diet and by getting some summer sun.
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