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March 2, 1979

Vitamin C Prophylaxis in Marine Recruits

Author Affiliations

From the Medical Dispensary, US Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, SC. Dr Pitt is presently with the Department of Surgery, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore. Dr Costrini is presently with the Department of Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Section, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.

JAMA. 1979;241(9):908-911. doi:10.1001/jama.1979.03290350028016

A prospective, randomized, double-blind study was carried out to determine whether vitamin C prophylaxis, 2.0 g/day, vs placebo prophylaxis would reduce the incidence or morbidity of the common cold and other respiratory illnesses in 674 marine recruits during an eight-week period. Whole-blood ascorbic acid levels measured six weeks after initiation of the study were significantly higher in the vitamin C group. There was no difference between the two groups in the incidence or duration of colds. The vitamin C group rated their colds as being less severe, but this was not reflected in different symptom complexes or in fewer sick-call visits or training days lost. This study and the literature do not support the prophylactic use of vitamin C to prevent the common cold.

(JAMA 241:908-911, 1979)