Three hundred eleven employees of the National Institutes of Health volunteered to take 1 gm of ascorbic acid or lactose placebo in capsules three times a day for nine months. At the onset of a cold, the volunteers were given an additional 3 gm daily of either a placebo or ascorbic acid. One hundred ninety volunteers completed the study. Dropouts were defined as those who missed at least one month of drug ingestion. They represented 44% of the placebo group and 34% of those taking ascorbic acid. Analysis of these data showed that ascorbic acid had at best only a minor influence on the duration and severity of colds, and that the effects demonstrated might be explained equally well by a break in the double blind.
(JAMA 231:1038-1042, 1975)
Karlowski TR, Chalmers TC, Frenkel LD, Kapikian AZ, Lewis TL, Lynch JM. Ascorbic Acid for the Common Cold: A Prophylactic and Therapeutic Trial. JAMA. 1975;231(10):1038–1042. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03240220018013
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