Background: Respiratory tract infections are a primary cause of illness and mortality over the world.
Objective : This study was aimed to investigate the effectiveness of vitamin C supplementation in preventing and treating respiratory tract infections.
Methods: We used the Cochrane, PubMed, and MEDLINE Ovid databases to conduct our search. The inclusion criteria were placebo-controlled trials. Random effects meta-analyses were performed to measure the pooled effects of vitamin C supplementation on the incidence, severity, and duration of respiratory illness.
Results : We found ten studies that met our inclusion criteria out of a total of 2758. The pooled risk ratio (RR) of developing respiratory illness when taking vitamin C regularly across the study period was 0.94 (with a 95% confidence interval of 0.87 to 1.01) which found that supplementing with vitamin C lowers the occurrence of illness. This effect, however, was statistically insignificant (P= 0.09). This study showed that vitamin C supplementation had no consistent effect on the severity of respiratory illness (SMD 0.14, 95% CI -0.02 to 0.30: I2 = 22%, P=0.09). However, our study revealed that vitamin C group had a considerably shorter duration of respiratory infection (SMD -0.36, 95% CI -0.62 to -0.09, P = 0.01).
Conclusion: Benefits of normal vitamin C supplementation for reducing the duration of respiratory tract illness were supported by our meta-analysis findings. Since few trials have examined the effects of therapeutic supplementation, further research is needed in this area.
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